(Islip, Long Island, New York — May 15, 2013)
Although railroad officials investigating the death of a 63-year-old Brentwood, NY father of four Friday afternoon called the presence of his 2000 Lexus at the Islip Avenue crossing of Long Island Railroad tracks “unauthorized”, they were still unable to determine if the crossing gates there were functioning properly at the time of the tragedy.
Adolfo Munoz, a retired used car salesman now working for his brother at DLC Motors near the site of the accident, was headed for home just after 4:00 P.M. when his car was struck by a LIRR train of maintenance equipment at the Route 111/Islip Ave. crossing just east of the Brentwood LIRR station, the Lexus destroyed and the victim ejected from his vehicle. Numerous users of the crossing questioned whether the gates were up or down when the collision occurred.
LIRR spokesman Sal Arena said on Friday that it was “too early to tell if the gates were up or down when the accident happened,” and his uncertainty was echoed Saturday by LIRR-owner Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesperson Marjorie Anders, who claimed that “We are looking into the functioning of the gates and flashers and downloading the black box.”
But Edson Munoz, 30, of Brentwood and a nephew of the victim, was on site himself Sunday, declaring that he “wanted to see” the tragic location, and that family and friends were “not too sure” about initial evaluations of driver fault in the fatal collision. He was joined by the victim’s son, who did not give his name. “A lot of people were saying the gates were up and down and weren’t working properly,” charged Edson.
The Munoz’s skepticism was given support by Tomika Oliver, who said she drives past the crossing at least twice a day, and has witnessed consistent problems at the intersection, stating that “the gate guard comes down and then quickly pops up, but no train passes.”
“It makes me very nervous,” Oliver said of the grade crossing situation. “I don’t trust the gates.”
The victim was taken to Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, NY, where he was pronounced dead shortly after arriving there.