NEW ROCHELLE, NY — — Mercedes-Benz is sending members of an Accident Investigation team to evaluate the vehicle which caused the Metro-North train crash in Valhalla, NY, according to sources familiar with the investigation.
Donna Boland, a spokesperson for Mercedes-Benz USA, denied reports that the a special investigations team out of Stuttgart, Germany had been dispatched to the United States.
“I’ve checked with our Stuttgart colleagues and there are presently no plans to deploy an accident analysis team,” said Boland. “That said, we stand ready to assist if the authorities request our help.”
On the evening of Tuesday, February 3rd, Ellen Brody drove her Mercedes-Benz Sports Utility Vehicle onto the tracks at Commerce Street crossing in Valhalla.
Brody was driving a 2011 Merecedes-Benz ML 350 which she had registered in December 2014. This is consistant with sources that tell Talk of the Sound she had purchased the vehicle about two months earlier.
At a press briefing on Thursday February 5th, NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt stated that the NTSB would seek to determine Brody’s familiarity with the vehicle she was driving, among other factors that may have led to the crash.
Current models of Mercedes-Benz SUV’s have extensive radar sensor system monitors that surround the vehicle which can send out warnings — lights and tones – if the radar detects a vehicle. If the driver does not respond to the warnings, the technology can actively apply the brakes in some instances.
A witness in the car behind Brody at the Commerce Street crossing told NTSB investigators that the crossing arm lowered, striking the back of Brody’s SUV. She exited her vehicle, walked back to the arm, got back into her vehicle and remained there for a moment before driving forward into the path of the oncoming train.
The data recorder indicates that the crossing arm functioned properly — flashing its lights 39 seconds before the train reached the Commerce Street crossing. The arm then lowered normally. The area was properly signed with RailRoad Crossing signs are markings on the pavement which read “Do Not Stop On Tracks”.