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NTSB report on man killed at Lynbrook station cites alcohol as factor

The report states that the victim, who died at the Lynbrook LIRR station in April, had a blood alcohol level of .23 percent.

MTA police investigate the fatal accident at the

MTA police investigate the fatal accident at the Lynbrook LIRR station on April 5. Photo Credit: Jim Staubitser

The man dragged to his death by a train in April was drunk as he walked along the Lynbrook station platform and reached out to touch a moving train, according to a federal report released Monday.

The National Transportation Safety Board said the probable cause of the accident was the "failure of the passenger to recognize that the departing train was moving as he walked on the station platform" and cited his "high" .23 percent blood alcohol level as a contributing factor. Drivers are considered drunk with a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or higher.

The report did not name the victim, but the Long Island Rail Road had identified him as Karl Aarseth, 65, of Lynbrook. 

Cameras on the platform captured what happened as Aarseth "leaned" into an eastbound train leaving the station just after 8 p.m. on April 5, the report said. "The videos showed that the passenger was walking down the platform, reached out to touch the moving train, then leaned into the moving train," the NTSB wrote.

Aarseth was dragged and his body was found on the platform, about one car length from the east end of the station, investigators said.

A few weeks after Aarseth's death, his friend Charles Abar sued the LIRR for $10 million, saying Aarseth stepped off the train, then fell through the gap between the train and platform. The suit blamed the train crew and the LIRR's "carelessness and recklessness" in the design of the platforms. A Newsday investigation in 2007 had found a high incidence of railroad passengers falling into platform gaps of up to 15 inches, prompting the LIRR to undertake an extensive effort to close the gaps.

But NTSB said the three-member crew on the 10-car train complied with the rules, including making sure that people were clear of the doors before closing them and clear of the train before moving. 

The conductor was in the third car when the assistant conductor, standing on the station platform near the seventh car, signaled with a flashlight that all passengers were clear, the report said. "After the train began moving, the conductor said that he saw a person move toward the train, about halfway down the platform near the waiting room," the report said. "The conductor said that the person made contact with the fifth or sixth car of the train and either held onto or was dragged along the platform by the train."

The conductor immediately ordered the engineer to stop the train by calling him over the intercom and also signaling him, the NTSB said. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority police did not find evidence of any crime related to the accident, the report said.

Aarseth's family, Abar and Abar's attorney could not be reached for comment Monday night.

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