How Woman's SUV Ended Up on Tracks a Mystery

As other victims of Metro-North crash are remembered
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 5, 2015 7:59 AM CST
How Woman's SUV Ended Up on Tracks a Mystery
In this aerial photo, personnel from various agencies work the scene of a deadly SUV and commuter train accident in Valhalla, N.Y., Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015.   (AP Photo/The Journal-News, Frank Becerra Jr.)

The investigation into what caused Tuesday's deadly Metro-North crash in Valhalla, NY, is focusing on how a mother of three described by friends as "responsible" ended up in the crossing as a train hurtled toward her. Ellen Brody, 49, of Edgemont was the driver of the SUV; she was headed home from the Chappaqua jewelry store job she had held for 15 years when witnesses say Brody exited her vehicle after a crossing gate lowered onto it. She re-entered the car, drove forward on the tracks, and was hit; one witness described her as not appearing to be in a hurry. The crash happened in the dark in an area where the tracks are straight, notes the AP. Talking to NBC New York, a friend describes the mom of three daughters, who was married to playwright Alan Brody, as "very responsible," "very reliable," and "a saint, because she was the most selfless person."

NTSB investigators are currently reviewing the tracks, interviewing the crew, and looking into whether Brody's Mercedes SUV had a data recorder. The five others who died in the crash, as per NBC:

  • Eric Vandercar, 53, of Bedford Hills wasn't only a seasoned finance executive—he recently exited Morgan Stanley after 27 years to go to a top directorial position at Mesirow Financial—the married father was also said to be an avid skier, whitewater rafting guide, and diver, as per
  • Staff at NYC's Metropolitan Museum of Art are grieving for one of their own: 69-year-old Walter Liedtke of Bedford Hills, who had worked as a curator and art historian at the Met for more than 30 years, specializing in Dutch and Flemish artists.
  • Aditya Tomar, 41, of Danbury, Conn., was born in India and worked in finance in New York City, his mother-in-law told NBC. She added that the family was "shocked and grieving."
  • Robert Dirks of Chappaqua was a 36-year-old father of two young children. Born in Thailand, Dirks got his PhD from Caltech and worked in the "development of novel computational chemistry methods."
  • Joseph Nadol, 42, of New Castle was managing director and analyst for JPMorgan's US aerospace and defense equity research group; he was reported to have had three children.
(More Metro-North train crash stories.)

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