• Questions about the Herricks Road Accident - 1982

  • Discussion of the past and present operations of the Long Island Rail Road.
Discussion of the past and present operations of the Long Island Rail Road.

Moderator: Liquidcamphor

  by Andrew
When the diesel hit the van with the Drunk driver that went around the crossing Gates killing 9 at the former Herricks Road grade Crossing back in 1982,How fast was the train going? Was it an Express to Montauk or Jamaica,or was it an Oyster Bay Train?

Was this the tragedy that was to be the elimination of The Herricks Road Grade Crossing?
  by Pilgrim Next
I spoke to the Engineer and Conductor a few days later.

The Engineer told me he was just loafing along in the 3rd notch, was ahead of schedule (at that time hicksville was the first stop on that train, and the Engine was a G-P 38, with 8 notches)
He said he never even saw the van, thats how close it was when it pulled in front of him.
It bothered him very much, because he had children that age at the time.
The van had been waiting in a line of a few cars, when it suddenly swerved into the oncoming lane, out onto the crossing just as the train got there.
The whole thing was witnessed by a police officer, who was a few cars back in the same line of cars.
The Conductor told me it was engine 265.
It was a horrific scene, the van split open at impact, and many of the victims spilled out and were run over by the train.
One person in the van survived, It was the daughter of J.D. Caemmerer, a state senator, of whom the West Side Yard was Named after a few years later.
The same Engineer was at the throttle when a Brakeman got killed a few years latter at sayville, also not the Engineers fault.
Everyone: The 1982 Herricks Road tragedy made national news-I recall finding out about it watching a TV news show that mentioned this accident when I was visiting in suburban Philadelphia.
I remember finding out that the train was bound for Port Jefferson. I believe the train left Jamaica about 2am and it connected with the 1:40am train from Penn Station.
It showed to me how bad some of these grade crossings were and if rational decisions were made some time ago perhaps ALL of the dangerous Main Line crossings could have been eliminated.
Thoughts from MACTRAXX
  by LongIslandTool
It was a horrible incident, from the young lives lost to the volunteer firemen looting the bodies.

Nobody who has seen carnage like that ever views life the same way.

But any engineer can tell you that going around the gates is still a daily occurrence.
  by RPM2Night
What was so important, where were they going that they couldn't have waited another what, 45 seconds for the train to pass that night? You have a 100% chance of NOT being hit by a train if you DON'T cross the crossing when the gates are down.

I won't even cross the tracks if the gates are down in single track territory, even if the train is stopped in the station.
  by frankie
I remember my parents sending me Newsday articles about the accident. It's very tragic but an accident that could have been easily avoided.

Unfortunately no one points the finger at themselves and say it was their fault. Just pure stupidity. Always need to blame something else. How is it that 99.99% of the populace have no problems obeying grade crossings (or other traffic situations for that matter), yet those who do decide to do something stupid tends to raise public awareness that something must be done in order to protect the law breakers?

Here in Missouri, we had a case where teenagers were careless and missed a sharp turn and wound up dead after hitting a tree. Warning signs and a lower speed limit didn't stop them. After lawsuits, the state wound up paying millions to straighten out the curve and eliminating some beautiful trees.

Bottom line is if I can be vigilant when driving, so should 100% of the rest of us!

  by LB
Apparently this was not the first bad one at Herricks Road. On November 13, 1941, 7 men were killed when a train hit their truck at Herricks Road Seems like this carelessness is a constant throughout the decades.
  by num1hendrickfan
RPM2Night wrote:What was so important, where were they going that they couldn't have waited another what, 45 seconds for the train to pass that night?
The answer to that is nothing, it was a drunk driving incident. The crossing wasn't dangerous, it was just doing it's job of protecting motorists.
That's not to say that eliminating grade crossings isn't a bad idea, as it improves the flow of both road and rail traffic( less speed restrictions for trains, less slowdowns for motorists).

It's a double-edged sword though as it also ruins photographic opportunities and a certain feel in some neighborhoods( can't really picture the idea of Mineola without crossings).

You'll still get the same bad drivers, regardless of road design. It'll just be somewhere else instead of at a train crossing or a curve.
  by LongIslandTool
It was those two accidents and at least seven others that caused the National Transportation Safety Board to designate Herricks Road as "the most dangerous crossing in the Nation".

The new elimination was quite challenging and includes some unique engineering features to lessen the depth of the road, reduce flooding and contain costs, which were only $25 million.
  by LB
It also added a slight bend to the north in the tracks just west of Mineola as pre-'96 photos show the rails were once perfectly straight.
  by HalMallon
to the volunteer firemen looting the bodies...


This is something I've never heard before...


It also added a slight bend to the north in the tracks just west of Mineola as pre-'96 photos show the rails were once perfectly straight.


This was done to assist with the planned third track on the main line. From Nassau Blvd to just past Herricks Rd headed east, there is a third track that just ends...
  by Head-end View
I didn't want to say anything about Tool's comment, in the hopes it would die a natural death, but since someone else brought it up: Tool, how could you make a comment like that about "firefighters looting bodies"? That's seems like a very reckless statement. Do you have any proof that this happened? It's a pretty serious accusation to make about any emergency service personnel. If you're going to say things like that, you'd best be able to back it up. Ya' know, I could say a few things about some railroad personnel if I chose to..................
  by Pilgrim Next
With all due respect, while there are honest firefighters there are also dishonest ones.
Just like anywhere else.
As tool was a supervisor on the RR, he knows what goes on, and would not make a comment like that if it were not true.
There was also looting ON THE TRAIN. The Conductor and brakman reported things missing from their cases.
Who did it is not known, but it did happen.
In fires at appliance stores for example, some of the merchandise does not get fire or water damage, but ends up in someones home.
Dont sound so outraged, most of us know people who have done this.
  by joetrain59
There is no excuse for that kind of behavior! Low-life scum taking advantage of tragedies!
But this aspect is off topic.