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Lives cut short by Metro-North crash

Ellen Brody, 49, was identified as the driver

Ellen Brody, 49, was identified as the driver of the SUV who was among the victims in the deadly Metro-North train crash on Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. Photo Credit: Facebook

The Metro-North crash that took the lives of commuters Tuesday night left sadness and shock in its wake as relatives, friends and colleagues learned of their loved ones' deaths.

Authorities had not released the names Wednesday night for any of the six people killed in the fiery collision between the northbound commuter train and a Mercedes-Benz SUV.

But for three of the dead — the driver of the SUV and two passengers from Bedford Hills — descriptions from records and those who knew them best emerged Wednesday of a trio of vibrant lives finished too soon:

Ellen Brody, 49, of Scarsdale, a suburban mom dedicated to her three children, her work and volunteering.

Eric Vandercar, 53, of Bedford Hills, a brilliant financial manager with deep community ties.

Walter Liedtke, 69, also of Bedford Hills, a renowned curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with an expertise in Dutch and Flemish art.

The three other people who died were identified by employers and family members as Aditya Tomar, 41, who worked in the financial field in Manhattan, Robert Dirks, 36, a research scientist at D.E. Shaw Research in Manhattan, and Joseph Nadol, an executive with JPMorgan Chase & Co., The Associated Press said Thursday morning.

"It's a tragedy for everybody," said Virginia Shasha, who worked with Brody at ICD Contemporary Jewelry, a jewelry store in Chappaqua. "It's not just our personal tragedy — our friend — these families have suffered and that should not be diminished in any way." Brody, Shasha added, "was a wonderful mother and she was a dear friend."

Brody was devoted to her three daughters, ages 14 to 22, and was "always volunteering" as do her daughters at their temple and Hebrew school, said Rabbi Benjy Silverman, of the Chabad of River Towns in Dobbs Ferry.

"She would be the one to greet people. . . . She would make me feel at home in my own synagogue," he said.

Vandercar's career in the financial services industry stretched back more than three decades. He had an economics degree from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business and an MBA in finance from NYU, according to his LinkedIn page.

But his interests went beyond work. He earned Eagle Scout honors in his youth and had coached youth soccer in Bedford, according to LinkedIn.

He was hailed as "not only a pillar in our industry" but also "a great partner and friend to many," according to a statement released by Mesirow Financial in Manhattan, where he worked as a financial services manager. Vandercar had worked as managing director in his firm's institutional sales and trading office since coming aboard last year, after nearly 27 years at Morgan Stanley.

Vandercar's fellow passenger and Bedford Hills resident, Liedtke, also climbed high in his chosen field. Liedtke was a renowned curator of European paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and was also well-known among Manhattan's arts and culture community as an authority on such paintings.

A woman who answered the telephone at his home in Bedford Hills said only that his family was not commenting and referred questions to the museum.

A statement from the museum, where he had worked since 1979, described Liedtke as "a brilliant, respected curator and scholar" who "will long be remembered for his vast knowledge, his wit, and a passion for art that inspired all who came in contact with him."

Liedtke had left his own words, explaining in an audio recording on the museum's website his love of both Vermeer's paintings and the open landscape in "that part of Westchester County with stone walls and trees" that he saw from the train.

"I think there's something Dutch about the way I live. To go home every day from the Upper East Side of Manhattan to the countryside is a really nice contrast," Liedtke said. "It's that image of harmony, quietude. It's like a personal vision. You might have it anywhere, on the train or at home, and [Vermeer] did that deliberately."


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