A 67-year-old Shirley man was injured Tuesday in the second of two Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) crashes in 24 hours.
A LIRR train collided with a vehicle at a Patchogue grade crossing around 12:09 p.m. on Tuesday, sending the hatchback flying about 30 feet down the tracks. The driver, Gary Calderone, 67, of Shirley, suffered non-life threatening injuries and was taken to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center in East Patchogue, Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) officials told Newsday. Calderone was issued a summons for failing to obey warnings of an approaching train by going under, around or through crossing gates, said MTA spokeswoman Meredith Daniels. Thirteen passengers aboard the train were uninjured.
The train was traveling from Babylon to Speonk and had just departed the Patchogue station shortly after noon when the crash occurred on the Rider Avenue rail crossing. The force of the crash sent the Ford Focus careening into the Swezey Fuel Oil building, knocking out an air conditioner and windows. Patchogue Village Mayor Paul Pontieri told Newsday that the Swezey building did not sustain critical, structural damage.
On Monday, a Toyota was struck on the tracks in East Rockaway at the Rocklyn Avenue crossing. The driver sustained back and neck injuries. Last month, six people were killed in a train crash in Westchester County. The wrecks have sent MTA officials scrambling to come up with improved education, technology and other ways of cutting down on collisions at grade crossings, including the nearly 300 on Long Island, according to Newsday.
At an MTA board meeting last week, the agency’s chairman and chief executive, Thomas Prendergast said all options are on the table, including eliminating certain crossings by elevating tracks or building bridges for vehicles. The work would cost about $100 million each, Newsday reported.
U.S. Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, a Democrat from New York, is trying to pass federal legislation to improve safety measures at crossings in the wake of a Metro-North train crash and fire that killed a woman in an SUV on the tracks and five train passengers in Valhalla, New York. The Federal Railroad Administration has launched a campaign which includes working more closely with law enforcement to keep drivers off railroad tracks, according to CBS New York.