They say it appeared that two vehicles, sitting in traffic, were caught between a set of downed railroad gates activated by an approaching train.
Ryan Murphy, driving with his mother, got out of the car and somehow raised the gate enough for his mother to drive out. A second vehicle, a truck, was also trapped inside. The driver was able to race out just in time, but the train still clipped the truck.
"It came down on our windshield, so I just picked it up," he said. "And then my mom came through and then the other guy behind us, who was in the big truck. His truck got hit. Luckily, we didn't."
Damage to the truck and the train were minimal, thanks, authorities say, only to the actions of the youngster.
"At the time, I was freaking," mom Jackie Murphy said. "And then my little boy got out of the car and lifted it up. He was like, 'Hurry, mom, hurry!' And then I went through. At least the truck got through a little bit. But he got hit in the back. [Ryan] has always been my hero."
LIRR officials were on scene investigating the accident and trying to figure out how the vehicles became trapped inside the gates.