Rabbi: Driver Killed in SUV-Train Crash Was ‘Beautiful Soul’

DOBBS FERRY, N.Y. (AP) -
The casket of Ellen Brody, a”h, on Friday is taken out of the Chabad house after her funeral. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
The casket of Ellen Brody, a”h, on Friday is taken out of the Chabad house after her funeral. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

The SUV driver involved in a train wreck that claimed six lives was “a beautiful soul” who always took a genuine interest in others, her rabbi said Friday outside her funeral.

Many young adults were among the mourners at the Dobbs Ferry funeral for Ellen Brody, a”h, a 49-year-old mother of three daughters in their teens and 20s.

Silverman said she was the “biggest fan and supporter” of her husband and daughters, who all spoke at the funeral.

Brody worked at a suburban jewelry store and was married to Alan Brody, an author and journalist. She was active in Chabad of the Rivertowns throughout the synagogue’s 12 years.

According to investigators’ preliminary findings, Brody’s car was in the danger zone inside railroad crossing gates for about half a minute before the train hit.

Brody got ahead of the crossing gate in inching traffic, then got out of her car to examine it after the gate came down and hit the back of it, a witness has said. But then she got back in, seeming unhurried, and advanced onto the track. The train’s engineer also told investigators that he saw the car moving onto the tracks.

Data recorders also show the Metro-North Railroad train’s engineer hit the emergency brakes and sounded the horn as the train bore down on the Valhalla crossing, traveling 58 mph in a 60 mph zone. Flashing warning lights at the crossing illuminated 39 seconds before the crash, and the gates came down a few seconds later. That would leave about 30 seconds that the SUV was inside the gates.

Investigators haven’t found any problems with the warning signals or the nearby traffic lights, which are synched to let drivers clear the crossing when a train is coming.

Trains hit cars on the tracks many times a year, but such crashes rarely kill train riders. Investigators have emphasized that they want to figure out why this one did, becoming the deadliest accident in the 32-year history of one of the nation’s busiest commuter railroads.