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Driver Of SUV Worked At Chappaqua Jewelry Store For 15 Years

Virginia Shasha, a co-worker of Ellen Brody, talks to reporters at ICD Contemporary Jewelry in Chappaqua. Photo Credit: Jon Craig
Ellen Brody, far left, with co-workers at ICD Contemporary Jewelry store in Chappaqua. Photo Credit: Grace Bennett/Inside Chappaqua magazine

This story has been updated.

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- Co-workers at ICD Contemporary Jewelers in Chappaqua described Ellen Brody, 49, of Edgemont -- the driver of the Mercedes Benz SUV that triggered Tuesday's fatal Metro-North train wreck -- as loving, responsible, a rule follower.

She was "the life of the jewelry store" at 75 S. Greeley Ave., where she worked faithfully for 15 years.

Store owner Varda Singer and co-worker Virginia Shasha called Brody "warm, kind, a great mom, a great worker, very responsible, very reliable. We can't believe she is gone."

Brody would have turned 50 on March 27.

"There was going to be a big party,'' Shasha told reporters Wednesday while choking back tears. 

Singer said Brody left the Chappaqua store about 6 p.m. Tuesday and planned to meet someone in Scarsdale. 

At a Wednesday news conference, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino speculated that Brody may have taken Commerce Street as a shortcut after an accident occurred nearby on the Taconic State Parkway, backing up rush-hour traffic.

Shasha said she spent the night with Brody's three daughters, one a high school junior, one in college and a third a recent college graduate, at their home in Edgemont.

"Ellen Brody was a generous spirit. She loved people. She loved life. She always had a smile on her face,'' Shasha said. "We are grieving for everybody's loss. We are devastated for the tragedy that has befallen all."

Brody and her family were active in Chabad of the Rivertowns. Alan Brody said family and friends will be saying goodbye to his wife Friday at 10 a.m. at the synagogue at 303 Broadway in Dobbs Ferry.

Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner said he has known the Brody family for many years, including through events at the Chabad. "Ellen was a caring, upbeat, kind and wonderful woman who brought smiles and happiness to many people,'' Feiner said. "She will be missed."

Eyewitnesses to the accident said that a railroad crossing gate came down on the back of Brody's Mercedes SUV about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Brody got out of her SUV to look at the gate, and then pulled forward into the path of the Metro-North train, despite a motorist behind her trying to coax her to pull into reverse through the gate, according to reports.

Other media reports said crossing gates were malfunctioning a mile south at Virginia Road in Greenburgh about five hours earlier on Tuesday.

A National Transportation Safety Board member said Wednesday that part of their investigation will try to determine the line of sight for Brody and the train's engineer. Her SUV was pushed about 1,000 feet, according to the NTSB and pierced by the electrified third rail. 

The NTSB said it also will download data from the railroad gate crossing and Taconic State Parkway traffic signals to pinpoint problems. 

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