Home / National News / Metro-North Tragedy: How the Most Fatal Train Crash in Its History Unfolded


(VALHALLA, N.Y.) — The fatal train crash in suburban New York unfolded in the middle of the evening rush hour as hundreds of people were headed home.

The Metro-North crash, which left six people dead and more than a dozen others hospitalized with injuries, is under investigation — but a timeline of the accident has started to emerge.

Here is what happened:

Tuesday, Feb. 3

5:44 p.m.

A Metro-North Railroad train departs from Grand Central Station on the Harlem line, which cuts through the center of Westchester County. About 700 passengers were believed to be on board.

6:33 p.m.

The crash occurred about 45 minutes into the journey, near the town of Valhalla, which is 20 miles north of New York City.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority confirmed the time of the crash as 6:33 p.m.

The crash came when the train slammed into a Jeep SUV that was on the tracks at the Commerce Street grade crossing.

The circumstances of the collision remain at the center of the investigation.

The SUV wrapped around the front of the train and was driven 400 feet down the track, dislodging the electrified third rail. The rail went through the SUV, punctured the gas tank causing an explosion, and then came through the floor of the train behind the motorman’s compartment.

“You had a metal rail going right down the train like a ramrod,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo told ABC News Radio Wednesday morning. “That’s what caused massive destruction.”

“This was as ugly as anything I have ever seen,” he said.

Passengers began evacuating the train, and the worst of the destruction appeared limited to the first train car.

“I saw flames coming at me, about a foot from my head,” passenger Christopher Gross told ABC News this morning.

7:13 p.m.

Metro-North announced via Twitter that it was suspending all train service between North White Plains and Pleasantville, New York, as a result of the accident.

Three hours later, it announced that all northbound Harlem line trains out of Grand Central would stop at North White Plains.

10:12 p.m.

The National Transportation Safety Board announced that it would be sending a go-team of investigators from its Washington, D.C., headquarters to New York to survey the scene.

This Morning

MTA officials confirmed to ABC News that the driver of the train was expected to survive after being held overnight in the hospital.

After Cuomo announced earlier that there had been seven fatalities, officials revised the number of fatalities down to six — five train passengers and the driver of the SUV, most of them said to be burned beyond recognition. There were 15 other passengers who are being treated for injuries.

Victims’ families were meeting at the medical examiner’s office Wednesday morning to attempt to make the final identifications.

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