All About Armonk

North Castle Daily News

Long Road to Recovery Begins

While Metro-North’s 87-ton train and the charred car have been cleared from the tracks, the Harlem line service is back up and running, slowly, as trains pass the scene of the incident. Most commuters are avoiding the first car of the trains.

As Westchester community begins to heal, mourning has begun. Services are planned for Ellen Schaeffer Brody who was instantly killed as her vehicle was dragged 1,000 feet on the tracks. The third rail pierced into the SUV and then into the first car of the train, killing five men sitting in the first car.

Services for Brody will take place on Friday 10:00 a.m. at Chabad of the Rivertowns in Dobbs Ferry.  

Over a dozen commuters sustained injuries. Included in that group is a Brewster man who is in serious condition. He is in his 40’s, married, and has two children. It’s been reported by someone who knows the family well that the Westchester County Medical Center is attempting to repair one of his ankles and trying to save his other leg. But there is a chance that he might lose the other leg below the knee. He did not sustain any burns. His family says he is fully awake and aware of his situation. The third rail which came through the first car had caused his injuries.

The man is expected to remain in the trauma center and in the hospital for a few weeks. Prayers go out to him and his family, who say their neighbors have been wonderful.

Ellen Schaeffer Brody
Eric Vandercar
Walter Liedtke
Metro-North Victims Identified

February 4, 2015
All six people killed in the horrific Metro-North accident have been identified.

Ellen Schaeffer Brody of Edgemont, who was the driver of the SUV on the tracks, was instantly killed when a Metro-North train hit her vehicle at the Commerce Street railroad crossing in Valhalla.

The mother of three children who lived in Scarsdale, Brody was returning home from her job of 15 years at ICD Contemporary Jewelry in Chappaqua. Her husband, Alan Brody, thanked those who shared their condolences on Facebook. A memorial service will be held on Friday February 6 at 10:00 am at Chabad of the Riverstowns at 303 Broadway, Dobbs Ferry.

The five men who were passengers of the first car of the train have been identified. Our heart goes out to the victims' families and friends. The first two mentioned were residents of Bedford Hills.

Eric Vandercar, a 53-year old family man with two children, was a Senior Managing Director of Municipal Funding at Mesirow Financial in New York City. Mesirow Financial released a statement: “Eric was not only a pillar in the industry, he was a great partner and friend to many. Losing him is a huge loss, personally and professionally. Our entire Mesirow family is hurting and our deepest sympathies are extended to his wife, Jill, and their family.”

Walter Liedtke, 69, was a Curator of European Paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Museum released a statement: “We are deeply saddened by this tragic loss. Walter Liedtke was a brilliant, respected curator and scholar of Dutch and Flemish paintings who was part of the Met family for 35 years. He will long be remembered for his vast knowledge, his wit, and a passion for art that inspired all who came in contact with him."

Watch "The Age of Rembrandt - Curatorial Perspective" with Walter Liedtke

Robert Dirks, 36, of Chappaqua was a Research Scientist at D.E. Shaw Research in the field of computational biochemistry. Dirks received a Ph.D. in chemistry from Caltech, and an A.B. in 2000 in mathematics and chemistry from Wabash College, summa cum laude, with election to Phi Beta Kappa.

Aditya Tomar, 41, of Danbury, CT. Tomar was a VP with JP Morgan Stanley Asset Management.

Joseph Nadol, 42, was from Ossining.

In addition, twelve patients were treated at the Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla. A spokesman for the Medical Center said eight people remain in the hospital. One of them is in critical condition, one is in serious condition, four are in fair condition, and two patients remain in good condition. Four people have already been released. 

Metro-North train hit a car in Valhalla
Tragic Metro-North Accident

Updated February 4, 2015
A witness who spoke with Channel 12 News said he was at the railroad crossing gate in Valhalla behind a car that was stopped near the railroad track on Tuesday February 3 at about 6:35 p.m. The back of the car in front of him was hit by the railroad crossing gate at the Commerce Street in Valhalla. The driver, Ellen Schaeffer Brody, a mother of three from Edgemont, got out of the car. She calmly examined her predicament, wiggled the crossing gate, and then got back in her car. She then drove forward on to the train tracks, in front of an oncoming train that was traveling at about 60 MPH. The train struck the SUV, which was then pushed 1,000 feet down the tracks.

Other witnesses said a loud explosion occurred at the scene the crash. Flames engulfed the vehicle and the first car of the train, which quickly filled with smoke.

An earlier accident on the Taconic Parkway caused backed up at the Commerce Street railroad crossing in Valhalla.

County Executive Rob Astorino and Governor Mario Cuomo said at separate news conferences that they witnessed the after-effects of the horrendous incident. It appeared that the third rail pierced the automobile, exploded the gas tank, and then went through the first two cars of the train. The third rail supplies electric current for the railroad system and is discontinued at railroad crossings.

Sadly, six people were reported dead: the driver of the car and five male passengers who were in the first car of the train. Dozens of people, including the locomotive engineer, were reported injured, said the President of the MTA. Many people were seriously injured and sustained non-threatening injuries.

“It’s an awful reminder to all of us how precious life can be,” said Cuomo.

The 5:45 p.m. express commuter train from Grand Central Terminal usually carries about 650 passengers. The train departed Grand Central, stopped at 125 Street, and the next stop was to be Chappaqua.

First responders and rescue workers helped hundreds of commuters from the train. Bus transportation was provided for stranded commuters.

A shuttle rail service between Pleasantville and North White Plains is provided by the MTA, but the Harlem Line is suspended until further notice. Limited bus service will also be provided as an alternative for commuters who travel on the Harlem Line. Normal, but crowded, Metro-North operations are expected south of North White Plains. Limited free commuter parking has been made available at the Westchestesr County Center and 50 spots are also available at North White Plains' Railroad Station. The Taconic Parkway Connector in Valhalla is now open.

An investigation will be done by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in attempt to determine exactly what happened in Valhalla. Astorino said NTSB will determine if the accident was caused by equipment failure or by human error by the driver. "If there was an error, how do we correct it?" asked Astorino. "Should there be a tripwire if there is something stuck on the tracks?"

THe NTSB has asked for any witnesses of the incident to contact them at witness@ntsb.gov.