Metro-North disaster

I really don't understand what happened. The nbcnews.com description reads like this:

"The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said that the SUV, a Jeep Cherokee, was stopped on the tracks when a railroad crossing gate came down on top of it.

The driver got out, checked the rear of the SUV, got back in and had started to drive forward when the train hurtled into it, the agency said. About 650 people are usually on the train when it leaves Manhattan for the northern suburbs."

If the car was stuck, how did the driver start to drive forward when the train hit? Or was this person actually dumb enough to try and drive across the tracks while the gate was closing, and then get out of their car to inspect the damage while it was still on the tracks? I just don't get it.

I don't get it either - if your car is on the tracks as LNG as it runs You hit the fucking gas and get off the fucking tracks! Phone Post 3.0

Maybe the idiot accidentally stopped on the tracks and didn't know until the gate came down?

PatK - Maybe the idiot accidentally stopped on the tracks and didn't know until the gate came down?

This would actually explain their bizarre behavior but how could anyone be that oblivious?

From what I can tell from the reports so far, the woman pulled up and stopped her car too close to the tracks as the crossing alarms started going off.  The gate then came down across the back end of her vehicle.  She got out to look at it, possibly checking for damage or the firmness of the gate or for cars behind her, and then sadly decided to pull the car forward rather than back.

I've read that reversing her car instead of trying to drive over the tracks would have been best.

The story on the local radio here is that she tried to make a turn and mistook the tracks for her turn. The gate came down on back of her SUV and instead of bailing there she tried to lift the gate, then got in the car, then tried to drive forward. Had she backed up and broke the gate/damaged her car there would be 7 people alive today. Phone Post 3.0

It sucks people have to die because someone else is such a poor decision maker.

If she was pulled forward enough for the gate to come down on the BACK of her car, she must have been on the tracks already, no?

The explosion does really seem to have been a freak occurrence. The third rail managed to pierce and ignite the gas tank and then drove itself through the train car as well. 9 times out of 10 the train just plows through the car and is relatively unharmed.

Tomato Can - 
PatK - Maybe the idiot accidentally stopped on the tracks and didn't know until the gate came down?

This would actually explain their bizarre behavior but how could anyone be that oblivious?

Because she's a woman?

Most women could be driving down the road with their car engulfed in flames and they wouldn't notice.

I thought I heard that the chick actually made a wrong turn and was un aware she was on train tracks

They are also saying the dumb bitch could have left her car there and it may not have gotten hit. Something like there was 15 feet between the tracks and the gate.

The NY Times has an aerial photo of the crossing. It looks like there's at least a full car length between the gate and the tracks. It seems like, as you say, her car may not initially have even been on the tracks when the gate hit her, and that she actually drove in front of the train at the last possible second. God knows wtf she was thinking.

The fact that so many passengers died was a real freak occurrence though. Normally when a train hits a car the car is obliterated and the train is fine.

Tomato Can - The NY Times has an aerial photo of the crossing. It looks like there's at least a full car length between the gate and the tracks. It seems like, as you say, her car may not initially have even been on the tracks when the gate hit her, and that she actually drove in front of the train at the last possible second. God knows wtf she was thinking.

The fact that so many passengers died was a real freak occurrence though. Normally when a train hits a car the car is obliterated and the train is fine.
Metro North commuter trains are more lightly built than a freight train. They don't have that big heavy diesel engine in the front to take out the car. Phone Post 3.0

Still, the sheer mass differential is huge. A single MNR car weighs like 70 tons. What happened to the third rail was pretty freakish and probably wouldn't happen 9 times out of 10.

I work for a very similar railroad. I have seen cars and trucks get struck by trains and never has the third rail come up and pierced the train. Definitely a freak occurrence. Phone Post 3.0