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Preliminary Report On Metro-North Train Crash Due This Month

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Federal investigators expect to issue a preliminary report this month on the fiery collision between a Metro-North train and an SUV that killed six people.

However, such preliminary reports from the National Transportation Safety Board rarely include major disclosures or conclusions. Those could be several months away.

A Harlem Line train crashed into a Mercedes SUV on Feb. 3 at a grade crossing in Valhalla, sparking an explosion and fire that burned out the first car of the train.

PHOTOS: Deadly Metro-North Accident

Ellen Brody, the SUV driver, and five men on the train were killed. All six suffered blunt-force injuries and burns, a medical examiner said earlier this week.

NTSB investigators arrived on the scene the next day and stayed until Wednesday.

According to investigators' preliminary findings, Brody's car was in the danger zone inside railroad crossing gates for about half a minute before the train hit.

The train, braking hard, collided with the SUV at 48 mph and traveled about 1,000 feet before coming to a stop, the NTSB said. The third rail penetrated the SUV and then the first car of the train.

The train car ingested some 468 feet of the third rail, which split up into 12 pieces of 49 feet each, NTSB Vice Chairman Robert Sumwalt said.

The NTSB is also asking questions about whether Metro-North's unusual third-rail arrangement, which involves taking power from the bottom of the rail, led to the splintering of the rail, which investigators said they had never seen before.

Investigators believe this is the first incident ever in which the third rail was dislodged and ended up piercing the floor of a passenger car – feeding the fire that melted the interior of the front train car.

The agency also is looking into how familiar Brody was with her car and her route, whether she was using a cellphone and whether the backed-up traffic played a role.

A spokesman said Thursday that they don't plan to comment on any findings before issuing the preliminary report the week of Feb. 23.

Also killed in the crash were Walter Liedtke, a curator of European paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Joseph Nadol, 42, a JPMorgan Chase & Co. executive; Aditya Tomar, 41, who worked in asset management at JPMorgan; and Robert Dirks, 36, a research scientist at D.E. Shaw Research in Manhattan.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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