Photo by Steve Mosco
A man believed to be in his 60s was struck and killed by an eastbound Long Island Rail Road train at the Little Neck station around 10:15 a.m. Thursday.
Authorities said the train sideswiped the man, who appeared to be crossing the tracks as the train approached. The Metropolitan Transit Authority is currently investigating the man’s death.
Workers at Ollie’s Taxi & Airport Service were in their office adjacent to the tracks when the train hit the unidentified man and were alerted by a driver who came running inside.
Leslie Nolette, a driver at Ollie’s, came upon the gruesome scene when she went outside to see what had happened. She said the man’s body was scattered along the tracks and she also noticed a woman standing dazed and motionless near the scene.
It was the man’s wife.
“I said, ‘Excuse me, are you okay?’ She looked at me and told me it was her husband,” Nolette said. “I gave her a hug and walked her away from the tracks.”
Other workers at Ollie’s said they did not hear the train sound its horn, leading them to believe the conductor never saw the doomed pedestrian. Jerry Dietrich and Jennifer Desousa, both employees at Ollie’s, said people are always ducking under the barriers at this station to get to the westbound platform.
“No one listens to the alarms and they ignore the barriers,” Dietrich said. “It’s just horrible.”
Desousa said she felt heartbroken for the wife.
“I can’t imagine what she’s feeling,” she said. “It’s so sad, especially around the holidays.”
State Sen. Tony Avella released a statement hours after the incident saying the Little Neck station had posed safety hazards for the community for quite some time.
“The problem stems from the fact that this station is the only LIRR station on the Port Washington line in Queens that is on ground level,” he said, adding that he has worked with the Department of Transportation and the LIRR to put possible safety measures in place at the station.
“At this time, my thoughts and prayers are with the family of the victim,” he said. “We should take a look at what exactly happened and what additional steps can be taken to prevent such a horrific accident from occurring in the future.”
But at the present, drivers at Ollie’s are still shaken by what they witnessed this morning.
“I can’t get the sight of his body out of my head,” said Nolette. “It’s a vision no one wants to see.”