LIRR train plows into vehicle, killing the driver

A Long Island Rail Road train struck a vehicle on Robbins Lane in Syosset Friday morning, killing the driver of the vehicle. Police say the car was hit at around 9 a.m. and then dragged down the tracks

News 12 Staff

Feb 14, 2009, 12:58 AM

Updated 5,638 days ago

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A Long Island Rail Road train struck a vehicle on Robbins Lane in Syosset Friday morning, killing the driver of the vehicle.
Police say the car was hit at around 9 a.m. and then dragged down the tracks about 1/2-3/4 of a mile. Witnesses at the scene say the railroad gate for southbound traffic on Robbins Lane opened, allowing the car to enter the intersection. It was then hit. Witnesses say the gate for northbound traffic remained down.
However, the LIRR says sensors on the gate in question indicate it was down at the time of the accident. They speculate high winds could have moved the gate. The crossing gate is being examined by the LIRR.
Officials identified the driver as 87-year-old Michael Grande, of Muttontown. They say he was likely killed on impact. It took work crews several hours to remove Grande?s car from the front of the train.
LIRR spokesman Joe Calderon also says that repairs to the gate were performed at approximately 8 a.m. According to Calderon, crews repaired a pivot pin on the gate that had broken during high wind. He added that the pin is designed to break in high winds.
At least two area residents tell News 12 Long Island they?ve observed the gate not functioning properly in recent days. Motorist Warren Wagner, of Jericho, says he crossed the tracks the night before when the lights were flashing but the gate never came down.
?As I got over I looked in my rear-view and noticed that the lights had gone off but still no gate had come down,? Wagner says.
Kaitlin Monahan, who works near the tracks, says the crossing gate hasn't been functioning properly lately. She says she?s seen MTA police on the sides of the crossing watching the gates.
The train involved in the accident was heading eastbound to Huntington from Penn Station in New York City. LIRR service was restored on the Huntington branch hours later. About 150 people were on the train at the time of the collision.
A team from the New York State Public Transportation Safety Board is also involved in the investigation.
Watch:Chopper 12 video above accident sceneState officials, LIRR will look into what went wrong


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