Funeral set for driver of SUV in commuter train collision

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Funeral set for driver of SUV in commuter train collision
For story suggestions please contact tips@nma.com.tw Investigators looking into a train collision in New York are focusing on why a car was stopped at a railroad crossing near White Plains north of New York City.
VALHALLA, NY - FEBRUARY 04: The sport utility vehicle that was hit by a Metro-North train is removed from the site of the accident on February 4, 2015 in Valhalla, New York. The crash started a fire in the train car that killed seven people, including the driver of the vehicle. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
VALHALLA, NY - FEBRUARY 04: Robert Sumwalt, vice chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, speaks at a press conference regarding a Metro-North train crash with a sport utility vehicle that occured last night on February 4, 2015 in Valhalla, New York. The crash started a fire in the train cars that killed six people, including the driver of the vehicle. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
VALHALLA, NY - FEBRUARY 04: An official is carried on a stretcher after being injured at the site of a collision between a Metro-North Railroad train and a sport utility vehicle in Valhalla, New York on February 4, 2015. The crash started a fire in the train cars that killed seven people and a dozen injured. (Photo by Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
VALHALLA, NY - FEBRUARY 04: Wreckage of a sport utility vehicle is removed from the site of a collision between a Metro-North Railroad train and a sport utility vehicle in Valhalla, New York on February 4, 2015. The crash started a fire in the train cars that killed seven people and a dozen injured. (Photo by Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
VALHALLA, NY - FEBRUARY 04: Wreckage of a sport utility vehicle is removed from the site of a collision between a Metro-North Railroad train and a sport utility vehicle in Valhalla, New York on February 4, 2015. The crash started a fire in the train cars that killed seven people and a dozen injured. (Photo by Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
VALHALLA, NY - FEBRUARY 04: Journalists work near the site of a collision between a Metro-North Railroad train and a sport utility vehicle in Valhalla, New York on February 4, 2015. The crash started a fire in the train cars that killed seven people and a dozen injured. (Photo by Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
VALHALLA, NY - FEBRUARY 04: An official is carried on a stretcher after being injured at the site of a collision between a Metro-North Railroad train and a sport utility vehicle in Valhalla, New York on February 4, 2015. The crash started a fire in the train cars that killed seven people and a dozen injured. (Photo by Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
VALHALLA, NY - FEBRUARY 04: An official is carried on a stretcher after being injured at the site of a collision between a Metro-North Railroad train and a sport utility vehicle in Valhalla, New York on February 4, 2015. The crash started a fire in the train cars that killed seven people and a dozen injured. (Photo by Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
VALHALLA, NY - FEBRUARY 04: Officials inspect the site of a collision between a Metro-North Railroad train and a sport utility vehicle in Valhalla, New York on February 4, 2015. The crash started a fire in the train cars that killed seven people and a dozen injured. (Photo by Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
VALHALLA, NY - FEBRUARY 04: Officials inspect the site of a collision between a Metro-North Railroad train and a sport utility vehicle in Valhalla, New York on February 4, 2015. The crash started a fire in the train cars that killed seven people and a dozen injured. (Photo by Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
VALHALLA, NY - FEBRUARY 04: The sport utility vehicle that was hit by a Metro-North train is removed from the site of the accident on February 4, 2015 in Valhalla, New York. The crash started a fire in the train car that killed seven people, including the driver of the vehicle. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
VALHALLA, NY - FEBRUARY 04: The sport utility vehicle that was hit by a Metro-North train is removed from the site of the accident on February 4, 2015 in Valhalla, New York. The crash started a fire in the train car that killed seven people, including the driver of the vehicle. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
VALHALLA, NY - FEBRUARY 04: The sport utility vehicle that was hit by a Metro-North train is removed from the site of the accident on February 4, 2015 in Valhalla, New York. The crash started a fire in the train car that killed seven people, including the driver of the vehicle. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
VALHALLA, NY - FEBRUARY 04: The sport utility vehicle that was hit by a Metro-North train is removed from the site of the accident on February 4, 2015 in Valhalla, New York. The crash started a fire in the train car that killed seven people, including the driver of the vehicle. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
VALHALLA, NY - FEBRUARY 04: Officials inspect a Metro-North train crash with a sport utility vehicle that occured last night on February 4, 2015 in Valhalla, New York. The crash started a fire in the train cars that killed seven people, including the driver of the vehicle. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
A paramedic in New York State says he's still in disbelief. Paramedic Angelo Ortiz was one of the first responders who treated people at the fatal train crash in Valhalla, New York.
VALHALLA, NY - FEBRUARY 3: Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) workers and other responders work at the scene of a train crash on February 3, 2015 in Valhalla, New York. A Metro-North commutor train carrying hundreds of passengers struck a vehicle at a railroad crossing killing at least seven people and injuring many more. (Photo by Michael Graae/Getty Images)
VALHALLA, NY - FEBRUARY 3: Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) workers and police investigate a Metro-North train crash on February 3, 2015 in Valhalla, New York. A Metro-North commutor train carrying hundreds of passengers struck a vehicle at a railroad crossing killing at least seven people and injuring many more. (Photo by Michael Graae/Getty Images)
VALHALLA, NY - FEBRUARY 3: Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) workers stand beside a burned out train car following a crash on February 3, 2015 in Valhalla, New York. A Metro-North commutor train carrying hundreds of passengers struck a vehicle at a railroad crossing killing at least seven people and injuring many more. (Photo by Michael Graae/Getty Images)
VALHALLA, NY - FEBRUARY 3: Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) workers and police investigate a Metro-North train crash on February 3, 2015 in Valhalla, New York. A Metro-North commutor train carrying hundreds of passengers struck a vehicle at a railroad crossing killing at least seven people and injuring many more. (Photo by Michael Graae/Getty Images)
VALHALLA, NY - FEBRUARY 3: First responders work at the scene of a train accident on February 3, 2015 in Valhalla, New York. A Metro-North commutor train carrying hundreds of passengers struck a vehicle at a railroad crossing killing at least six people and injuring many more. (Photo by Andrew Delaney/Getty Images)
VALHALLA, NY - FEBRUARY 3: Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) workers and police investigate a Metro-North train crash on February 3, 2015 in Valhalla, New York. A Metro-North commutor train carrying hundreds of passengers struck a vehicle at a railroad crossing killing at least seven people and injuring many more. (Photo by Michael Graae/Getty Images)
VALHALLA, NY - FEBRUARY 3: First responders work at the scene of a train accident on February 3, 2015 in Valhalla, New York. A Metro-North commutor train carrying hundreds of passengers struck a vehicle at a railroad crossing killing at least six people and injuring many more. (Photo by Andrew Delaney/Getty Images)
VALHALLA, NY - FEBRUARY 3: First responders work at the scene of a train accident on February 3, 2015 in Valhalla, New York. A Metro-North commutor train carrying hundreds of passengers struck a vehicle at a railroad crossing killing at least six people and injuring many more. (Photo by Andrew Delaney/Getty Images)
VALHALLA, NY - FEBRUARY 3: Police investigate a Metro-North train crash on February 3, 2015 in Valhalla, New York. A Metro-North commutor train carrying hundreds of passengers struck a vehicle at a railroad crossing killing at least seven people and injuring many more. (Photo by Michael Graae/Getty Images)
#BREAKING: Metro-North train hits car on tracks in Valhalla, officials say http://t.co/RAlEeUtWWc http://t.co/FxBOOupwmw
PHOTO: Firefighters spray water at scene of crash between car and New York commuter train: http://t.co/z2Oug24K23
JUST IN: MTA reports there are six dead in a Metro-North train collision in Valhalla, New York http://t.co/0WrjDY8CDg http://t.co/mjIjapXY9q
At least six dead after Metro-North train collides with car near White Plains: http://t.co/SjP4gOycWE http://t.co/4SZgEygd9Z
Crazy photo from the scene of the #metronorth train crash. It's the point of impact and looks devastating. http://t.co/PUaxKQSBuW
Several people feared dead after Metro-North train crashes into a car outside NYC http://t.co/Qo4Bxy2XaV http://t.co/BKCOXr3Cox
MTA confirms six dead in #MetroNorth crash in Valhalla. http://t.co/SUV9fpqttv
#BREAKING: Officials confirm 6 dead and 12 injured in commuter train crash in #Valhalla, New York. http://t.co/A7oAlTUDpx
#BREAKING update 6 dead. 5 on train, 1 driver. #MetroNorth #crash #Valhalla #NY Train vs 2 cars. @ least 12 hurt. http://t.co/WJMEXLIQSS
Multiple injuries reported after crash involving Metro-North train near White Plains, NY: http://t.co/ffUkTG0vfx http://t.co/b4Ehih4TfV
Terrible news out of Valhalla. Six killed in a train crash. Our story by @MattSpillane: http://t.co/K6kxlW7J1r http://t.co/onvi8MuLZz
WATCH LIVE: Chopper 4 @ Metro-North vs. car: massive emergency response, smoldering train cars http://t.co/EDDsjlrb6Q http://t.co/dZ3fCw7mox
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VALHALLA, N.Y. (AP) - Friends and family of the woman who died when the SUV she was driving was hit by a suburban commuter train were to gather Friday to mourn her loss and to say their final goodbyes.

Ellen Brody's funeral service is scheduled for Friday morning in Dobbs Ferry. The 49-year-old mother of three was killed along with five rail passengers on Tuesday night, when a commuter train crashed into her vehicle on the tracks at a railroad crossing in the Westchester County town of Valhalla.

Her family issued a statement Thursday saying they are devastated over losing Brody. "She was a warm, vivacious and dynamic presence in our lives, and the most loving and nurturing mother, wife, daughter and sister," the statement said.

According to investigators' preliminary findings, Brody's car was in the danger zone inside railroad crossing gates for about half a minute before the train hit.

Brody got ahead of the crossing gate in inching traffic, then got out of her car to examine it after the gate came down and hit the back of it, a witness has said. But then she got back in, seeming unhurried, and advanced onto the track, the witness told news outlets and investigators.

The train's engineer also told investigators that he saw the car moving onto the tracks.

Data recorders also show the Metro-North Railroad train's engineer hit the emergency brakes and sounded the horn as the train bore down on the Valhalla crossing, traveling 58 mph in a 60 mph zone, National Transportation Safety Board Vice Chairman Robert Sumwalt said Thursday.

Flashing warning lights at the crossing illuminated 39 seconds before the crash, and the gates came down a few seconds later, Sumwalt said. That would leave about 30 seconds that the SUV was inside the gates.

Investigators haven't found any problems with the warning signals or the nearby traffic lights, which are synched to let drivers clear the crossing when a train is coming, Sumwalt said. The crossing also had painted warnings on its pavement, and a sign 65 feet from the rail warns drivers not to stop on the tracks, he noted.

The agency hasn't mapped out how far before the crossing the engineer hit the emergency brakes on the train, which takes about 950 feet and 30 seconds to stop, Sumwalt said.

After the impact, flames enveloped the SUV and part of the train, and the electrified third rail pierced them. Hundreds of passengers scrambled through spreading smoke and fear, some helping each other to escape despite their own injuries.

Trains hit cars on the tracks many times a year, but such crashes rarely kill train riders. Investigators have emphasized that they want to figure out why this one did, becoming the deadliest accident in the 32-year history of one of the nation's busiest commuter railroads.

Investigators are looking for any elements that may have intensified the fire, which they believe was ignited by the SUV's gas tank. The NTSB has been examining such factors as the adequacy of emergency exits, the crashworthiness of the train cars and the unusual design of the Metro-North line's third rail.

The agency also is looking into how familiar Brody was with her car and her route, whether she was using a cellphone and whether the backed-up traffic played a role.

Driver Of SUV Identified In Deadly Metro-North Train Crash
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