MERRICK, Long Island – What began as a typical commute aboard the 5:40 PM Long Island Railroad train from Penn Station ended in near disaster when it rolled into the Merrick station Wednesday.
“Train stops, doors open up all of sudden, somebody leans forward and they’re like whoa!” commuter Billy Fleming said, describing the scene to PIX11. “You look and there’s no train platform, there’s nothing out there.“
Fleming said he couldn’t believe what he was seeing, even snapping a photo showing the opened doors of the train car as they lead into thin air. The elevated track was at least 30 or 25 feet above the ground, Fleming said.
“At that point we realized we had to get off, so we started to walk to the end of the car into the next car, and then we heard the doorbells going,” he recalled.
Fleming then pressed the car’s panic button which kept the doors opened for passengers to evacuate because according to him, the conductor wasn’t even aware of what was happening and was about to take off to the next stop.
“Who ever was on that train, running that train they had no idea that those doors were open – God forbid if someone fell off I would imagine that the rest of the passengers would’ve said something,” he said. ‘There would’ve been a commotion.”
Calls to 911 were re-routed to the MTA who then passed the call onto LIRR officials, giving Fleming a runaround.
He finally spoke to a live operator who has yet to get back to him about the incident.
“The fact that it just happened the way it did is really frustrating – unsettling to be honest with you,” he said.
“Some people may have a few beers on the train, and some of us have our faces in our iPhones and we’re in a routine you know,” Fleming said. “I know when I’m getting to that stairwell its kind of an unconscious move sort of, to step off the train without looking and the fact that no one stepped off the train, to me is actually amazing.”
It still remains unclear as to what happened aboard that train Wednesday.
A spokesperson for the LIRR told PIX11 in a statement that an investigation is underway.
As far as Fleming is concerned, he’ll continue to ride the train but will be weary.
“You know the construction in Penn Station is a nightmare, then to have this.”