An eastbound LIRR train struck a tractor trailer at a rail crossing near Farmingdale during the height of the rush hour Wednesday afternoon, shutting down service in both directions, stranding passengers, and sparking traffic gridlock on surrounding roads.
No one on the train or the tractor trailer was injured in the 5:45 p.m. crash, Long Island Rail Road officials said. By 7:30 p.m. full rail service had been restored and trains and street traffic were moving again, officials said.
Passengers slowly made there way off the train with the help of rescue crews as the damaged rail car sat on the tracks at the Merritts Road crossing between Bethpage and Farmingdale. Shortly after 7 p.m., a rescue train brought riders from the disabled train to Farmingdale to transfer to eastbound trains.
Stephanie Andujar, 21, of Medford, said she hardly knew the 4:51 p.m. from Penn Station had struck anything when the tractor trailer and the locomotive made impact.
"Basically, I was sitting down and it was like a little nudge, kind of," said the forensic psychology student as she waited for a ride from the Farmingdale station. "I thought it was just like the train stopping, the usual train stuff. All of a sudden everyone was walking and there was a truck accident. I didn’t even know it happened, honestly. I just thought it was a hole or something, a pothole."
The crash occurred about 8 miles east of a fatal February collision in Westbury between an SUV that had just fled the scene of a fender bender and two trains traveling in opposite directions. Three people in the SUV were killed in the crash when authorities said the driver attempted to go around a lowered gate crossing at School Street.
That crash forced the evacuation of 1,000 passengers on the two trains and reignited concerns about the safety of the LIRR's nearly 300 grade crossings.
LIRR officials did not provide details about Wednesday's crash.
Some riders took the collision in stride.
Jeweler Mario Scimeca, of Deer Park, said such inconveniences have been common in his 40 years riding the LIRR.
He took a photograph of the wreckage with his cellphone and said the crash barely made a sound, at least from where he was sitting, in the third car of the train.
“It felt like a little bump — that’s it," he said, while waiting to board an eastbound train and admiring his photo. "Happens all the time."