An LIRR train struck a Nissan at a railroad crossing in Brentwood, sparking a deadly fireball that killed the two people in the car, which was dragged about half a mile.
Authorities say that an equipment train traveling eastbound at about 75 to 80 mph and the car collided shortly past 10 a.m. along Suffolk Avenue near the Brentwood station.
Nobody was injured on the train, which had a crew of three.
Authorities say the LIRR engineer saw the driver of the car trying to circumvent the lower gate moments before the train struck the Nissan. Authorities said the investigation was continuing. The lights at the crossing appeared to be working properly.
“I heard the explosion and we parked and went running after the car,” said Francisco Jimenez, a 55-year-old delivery driver for a local medical office. “It was already in flames.”
Jimenez said he couldn’t get near it because of the smoke and fire, and as it ” rolled down the line it exploded.”
The Ronkonkoma branch is partially suspended in both directions between Ronkonkoma and Farmingdale as Suffolk County detectives and MTA Police investigate.
“I heard the explosion. I’ve been here 30 years and I’ve never heard anything like that,” said Dr. Nicholas Martin, who owns a chiropractic practice just steps away.
There is no indication as to why the car was on the tracks. The crossing does have electronic gates. According to one MTA worker, the crossing was working.
The MTA has ordered buses have to serve customers between Ronkonkoma and Farmingdale. If possible, customers are being told to seek alternate train service on the Montauk, Babylon and Port Jefferson branches.
PIX11 photographer Keith Lopez contributed to this report.