There are now two fatalities following an accident last Sunday afternoon when a southbound Metro-North train hit an automobile on the tracks at the Long Ridge Road railroad crossing.
According to Metro-North police, who are in charge of the investigation, the automobile, a Subaru, was traveling south over the tracks when it was struck by the train, which was carrying no passengers, at 1:20 p.m. There were no reported injuries to the train crew.
Based on the MTA police’s preliminary investigation, the lights on the crossbucks at the crossing were flashing at the time of the incident, signaling the approach of a train. There are no crossing gates at that crossing.
On Thursday, Marjorie Anders, a Metro-North spokesperson, said that according to the train’s engineer, when he climbed out of the locomotive, he noticed the radio in the car was blasting. “When you have bells and flashers, you have to be able to hear them,” said Ms. Anders.
When asked if drugs and/or alcohol were a factor in the accident, Ms. Anders said she did not know, but testing is being done.
Ms. Anders also said the train’s driver’s seat is on the west side when the train is going south. The car was coming from the east, heading west, “so he didn’t have a chance to see it,” she said.
The train’s event recorder showed the train was going 50 mph, which is the speed limit at that section of the track, Ms. Anders said.
Metro-North Authority police have released the names of the individuals in the car: Wayne, Balacky, 21, of Danbury, a passenger in the car, was pronounced dead at Danbury Hospital on Sunday afternoon. The female driver of the automobile, Jausheema Perkins, 19, a Danbury resident, was taken to Danbury Hospital suffering from head injuries. She reportedly died Friday at Yale-New Haven Hospitlal. Fakeem Morning, 19, and James Redmond , 21, both of Danbury, were each taken to Danbury Hospital with leg injuries and both were transferred to Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, N.Y.
Redding police initially assisted Metro-North police at the scene. Police Chief Douglas Fuchs said on Sunday that the Redding police’s traffic accident reconstructionist was assisting Metro-North police.
Simpaug Turnpike was closed just after the West Redding railroad crossing in the vicinity of the post office while the accident was under investigation at the scene.
As a result of the accident, train service on the Danbury branch of Metro-North Railroad was temporarily suspended for the 3:11 p.m. and subsequent trains and replaced with bus service operating between Danbury and South Norwalk. Train service resumed with the 7:43 p.m. train departing from Danbury to South Norwalk.
The Metro-North police’s investigation is continuing.
Meanwhile, gates for this crossing are being looked into, Ms. Anders said, adding this is an issue in which Metro-North works with the state of Connecticut.
“Any rail infrastructure in the state is the responsibility of the state. We have nothing to do with stations, parking lots, rail crossing, etc.,” she said. “We would maintain a gate,” she said.