Authorities look over the wreckage of a Metro-North Railroad train and a SUV in Valhalla, N.Y. on Feb. 4. Five train passengers and the SUV’s driver were killed in Tuesday evening’s crash. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

(Bloomberg) — The fiery rush-hour crash of a New York commuter train in Westchester County that killed six people happened amid a traffic jam that sent a swarm of autos across a level crossing, said a union official representing the engineer.

The deadliest accident in Metro-North Railroad’s history occurred after an accident on the Taconic State Parkway, said Tony Bottalico, general chairman of the Association of Commuter Rail Employees. Cars were diverted, crossing the tracks in the process. Gates came down atop a Jeep Cherokee, whose driver got out, got back in, tried and failed to move foward, he said.

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