VALHALLA, N.Y., Feb. 3 (UPI) -- At least seven people were killed and 12 others injured after a packed Metro-North commuter train struck a vehicle on the tracks in Valhalla. Authorities said it was the deadliest crash in the history of the railroad.
The train was traveling north on the Harlem line when it hit a Mercedes sports-utility vehicle, pushing it 10 train car lengths down the track.
Original reports indicated the vehicle that was hit was a Jeep Cherokee.
The train left Grand Central Terminal at 5:44 p.m. local time, and the crash happened at about 6:30 p.m.
MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said the railroad crossing gates had come down on the SUV before it was hit by the train. The driver of the Jeep and six passengers were killed.
All passengers were evacuated from the train and transported to a nearby funeral home and rock-climbing facility.
"This is truly an ugly, brutal sight," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. "The third rail of the track came up from the explosion and went right through the car, so it is truly a devastatingly ugly situation to see."
Investigators identified the driver of the Mercedes as 49-year-old mother of three, Ellen Brody.
A driver stopped behind her at the railroad crossing told The New York Times he observed the crossing arms lower down onto the back of her SUV. She then got out of the vehicle to unsuccessfully try to move the arms.
"She looks at me, that's the disturbing part," the witness, Rick Hope, said. "I was waiting for her to say, 'What do I do?' That's easy -- come here!"
He said Brody then got back into her vehicle.
"The thing's dinging, red lights are flashing, it's going off," Hope said. "I just remember going, 'Hurry up.' I just knew she was going to back up -- never in my wildest dreams did I think she'd go forward."
"It was just instantaneous," he said. "She was gone."
Police have not confirmed the names of the train passengers who died.