NTSB Member Sumwalt and investigative team discuss details of the Metro North crash. NTSB

NTSB Member Sumwalt and investigative team discuss details of the Metro North crash. NTSB

VALHALLAH, N.Y. — The force of the fatal crash between a Metro-North commuter train going nearly 60 mph and a stopped SUV was so severe that the electrified third rail broke off and pierced the vehicle's chassis and gas tank before penetrating the first train car and igniting a "fierce fire," investigators said Wednesday, Newsday reported.

Six people died in the crash Tuesday night along the Harlem Line in the Westchester community of Valhalla. The train thrust into the vehicle's side and pushed it along the tracks for up to 1,000 feet, said National Transportation Safety Board officials Wednesday, the report said.

What is most puzzling to investigators at the scene is why the SUV was on the grade crossing as the warning gate lowered and slammed it on the rear — seconds before impact, according to the report.

"For reasons that are not precisely known at this time, for whatever reason, the Mercedes SUV was stopped on the tracks," Sumwalt said at a news conference.

NTSB recorder specialist George Haralampopoulos search for event recorder in the Metro North train.NTSB

NTSB recorder specialist George Haralampopoulos search for event recorder in the Metro North train.NTSB

 
In coming days, the NTSB team will interview the conductor and engineer, and analyze the crash from every possible angle, Sumwalt said.

Train involved in Valhalla, N Y, Metro-North accident at maintenance facility to be further examined. NTSB

Train involved in Valhalla, N Y, Metro-North accident at maintenance facility to be further examined. NTSB

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Board Member Robert Sumwalt views damaged rail car involved in Metro North train accident. NTSB

Board Member Robert Sumwalt views damaged rail car involved in Metro North train accident. NTSB

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