Family of SUV driver killed in horrific Metro-North crash files lawsuit

DOBBS FERRY, N.Y. (WABC) -- The family of the SUV driver who was killed in a horrific Metro-North crash in Valhalla that also claimed the lives of five train passengers has filed a notice of claim against the railroad.

"This horrific accident was not the fault of Ellen Brody," said lawyer Philip Russotti, who represents Brody's family.

The lawsuit also names the MTA, Westchester County, the Town of Mount Pleasant and the state of New York.

Brody was killed when her vehicle was struck while between the gates, sparking a hellish scenario that involved 400 feet of electrified third rail snapping into 39-foot pieces that speared the train during the fiery collision.

The pieces went through the first car of the train "like daggers going into the heart of that chamber," Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said after the crash.

According the lawsuit, the collision was caused by the "hazardous nature of the Commerce Street railroad crossing which caused Mrs. Brody to unknowingly become trapped on the tracks with insufficient time for her to appreciate her situation and to protect herself from the oncoming train."

Brody was a married mother of three, and her husband, Alan Brody, is an author the journalist.

The couple had three daughters in their teens and 20s. For 15 years, Brody worked in a jewelry store on Greeley Avenue in Chappaqua. Co-workers described her as a ray of sunshine, always putting other people ahead of herself.

At her synagogue, Brody was "definitely the connector" who helped create camaraderie, according to Rabbi Benjy Silverman.

"She was passionate about Judaism, she was passionate about her kids, and she did a great job of fulfilling the values that were important to her," he said.

"She was such a good person, such an amazing mom, a friend like you wouldn't believe," co-worker Virginia Shasha said. "But I have to tell you, whoever she encountered in life, she just, they left smiling, they always left smiling."

Friends said they have driven with Ellen many times and have no reason to think that she was anything but a good and safe driver.

"This is just really very devastating because she's, like, a tremendous person, a really nice person," said Paul Feiner, the town supervisor in Greenburgh, which includes Edgemont.

Feiner, who said he knew Brody for two decades, added that she was "not the type of person, somebody who was careless, not risky when it came to her safety or others."

Brody also helped found a student news network in her town and was involved in almost everything at her synagogue, friends and her rabbi said.
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