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6 Killed On NYC Commuter Train, 1 In Car After Collision On Tracks

Emergency workers stand near a burned-out SUV that was struck Tuesday night by a Metropolitan Transportation Authority Metro-North Railroad commuter train near the town of Valhalla, N.Y.

A crash involving a commuter train north of New York City and a car on the tracks left the SUV's driver and six train passengers dead and a dozen more badly injured Tuesday night, according to WNYC.

It was not immediately clear why the car, described as a black Jeep Cherokee, was on the tracks. In an email, [Metro-North spokeswoman Marjorie] Anders said crossing gates came down on top of the vehicle. 'The driver got out to look at the rear of the car,' Anders wrote, 'then she got back in and drove forward and was struck.' "

WNYC reports that the SUV was pushed about 10 train lengths north by the train, and that both then caught fire.

It was the second major accident in 15 months for Metro-North, which saw four passengers killed and about 60 hurt in December 2013 when a train speeding around a curve in the Bronx borough of the city derailed. The rail line serves 280,000 passengers a day traveling between New York City and its northern suburbs in New York and Connecticut.

The Journal News, a newspaper in the Lower Hudson River Valley, reports that the 400 passengers who could walk were evacuated through the back of the train and taken to a nearby sports club.

"Alex Bernier, 26, of Mahopac, was aboard the train when the crash occurred and said he felt the jolt as the train came to an extremely abrupt stop. 'My first thought was that it was a signal error. There was a bit of confusion on the train. We all kind of shuffled to the back,' he said. 'People just started opening windows (to get out).' "

At a press conference late Tuesday night, an official told reporters that the fire was caused by the electrified third rail penetrating first the SUV, then the floor of the first train car.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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