LIRR train hits SUV on tracks, 1 killed

A bulldozer removes a mangled SUV from the A bulldozer removes a mangled SUV from the Long Island Rail Road tracks in Islip. Officials said a train crashed into the vehicle, killing the vehicle's driver and disrupting service on the Ronkonkoma line for several hours. (June 11, 2012) Photo Credit: James Carbone

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A Long Island Rail Road train crashed into an SUV on the train tracks in Islip early Monday morning, killing the vehicle's driver and disrupting service on the Ronkonkoma line for several hours, officials said.

An eastbound train out of Penn Station crashed into the SUV near the crossing at Route 111 at about 4:30 a.m., LIRR spokesman Salvatore Arena said.

The SUV was dragged about 200 feet and erupted in flames. The train and the vehicle came to a stop near the North Peters Boulevard crossing.

The driver, who was the only person in the SUV, was killed. MTA officials last night identified the driver as Alan Wuelman Balladares, 27, of Bay Shore.

No one on the train was injured, Arena said. He said the train was carrying 31 passengers, all of whom were evacuated from the train through the fifth car moments after the crash.

Arena said an investigation showed that the gates were operating and were in the down position at the time of the accident. It was not immediately clear if the SUV went around those crossing gates or if the vehicle had become disabled while on the tracks.

A bulldozer moved the vehicle from the south side right of way to an area on the north side of the tracks at about 7:45 a.m. The bumper of the vehicle could be seen in the roadway near the grade-level crossing at Route 111.

The accident caused the LIRR to suspend train service between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma for several hours Monday, including throughout the morning commute.

Crews repaired damage to the third rail and train track by around noon, but service remained suspended until 3 p.m. because of unrelated track work on the line that was already scheduled.

LIRR officials did not expect any impact from the accident on Tuesday morning's commute.

In 2011, 22 people were killed on LIRR rights of way, according to the transit agency. Of those, 10 were deemed suicides.

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