Rail crash on Sackett Avenue

The sedan made a turn from Williamsbridge Road onto Sackett Avenue and lost control. It missed trees on its way downhill to the railroad. Photos by Victor Chu

A woman and two children flirted with disaster on Tuesday, October 13 when their Acura sedan smashed through an Amtrak fence and careened close to the railroad tracks.

The 45-year old woman, heading south on Williamsbridge Road at around 9 a.m., turned west onto Sackett Avenue and lost control. The sedan jumped a curb and tore through the chain-link fence, then plunged down a steep hill. The woman and toddlers missed trees and rolled to a halt inches from the rail line. No one was hurt.

Manuel Santos, 65, witnessed the crash from his Sackett Avenue apartment window.

“It was scary,” Santos said. “She had to be going 60 or 70 [miles per hour].”

The sedan stopped against but not on the rail line, 49th Precinct Captain John Greeley said. The woman and children were transported to Jacobi Medical Center as a precaution, Greeley added.

The crash didn’t disrupt Amtrak mobility. Trains were able to pass on an adjacent rail line, an Amtrak spokesman said. The Hell Gate railroadrail line is used 24/7, the spokesman added. A train passed on the adjacent rail line at around 11:30 a.m., Santos said.

“Thank God nothing happened,” Santos said. “Imagine if a train had come by [on the closer rail line].”

The Fire Department reached the crash first. An ambulance followed, and then Amtrak Police. Jason Mazzariello of J&J Collision helped to hook up and hoist the sedan from the railroadtracks to Sackett Avenue.

“She lost control,” Mazzariello said.

Amtrak will repair the Sackett Avenue fence, the spokesman said. The Morris Park Community Association has fielded complaints about the fence before; MPCA president Al D’Angelo has seen children run across the railroad.

“It isn’t a secure fence,” D’Angelo said. “Amtrak needs to put a guard rail around it.”

The MPCA has also asked Amtrak to keep the fence and hill litter-free.

Dan Curto was at an auto shop on Sackett Avenue when the crash occurred. An Amtrak police officer told Curto that the woman knocked her teeth out.

Santos has lived at Sackett Avenue and Williamsbridge Road for ten years. When the woman stepped out of the sedan, she was shaking, he reported.

“Never seen a crash like that,” Santos said. “Those trains come fast. She was lucky.”

The Department of Transportation agreed to install a speed hump on Sackett Avenue between Williamsbridge Road and Hering Avenue in August.

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