Three people were killed and at least seven more were injured when a vehicle on the LIRR tracks was struck by two trains near the Westbury station last night, about 30 miles east of Manhattan. The three fatalities were reportedly inside the vehicle, which investigators say was driven around lowered crossing gates onto the tracks, moments before being struck by an eastbound train around 7:20 p.m.

Authorities said the driver was trying to "beat the gate" at a grade crossing near the station.

The impact from the first collision sent the vehicle onto the westbound tracks, where it was struck again by a westbound train, derailing the first two cars. Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said, “The train then leaves the track and takes out the platform and then hits the north side of the platform and takes off about 30 yards of concrete, which goes through the train."

The damage to the vehicle was so severe that first responders could not immediately say what type of vehicle it was. The deceased have not been identified.

The two trains were carrying over 900 passengers between them. Eastbound passenger Michelle Asprer told the Times, "It was like a bad movie. It was so scary." Asperer said the westbound train struck the last car of her train during the crash, setting it on fire: "The people from the last car were running up, saying ‘Move up, move up because the last car is on fire.’"

"I was sitting on the left side and all of a sudden the train really started rocking hard. Flames flared up on my side," westbound train passenger April Frazier told Newsday. "I heard the conductor yell ‘Brake, brake!’ That’s when I saw the flames. That’s when it got real. I’m still shaken up. You don’t know. You think you might die. I’m thinking to myself ‘It might be my last day.’

The seven injuries sustained by people aboard the trains were minor, Newsday reports.

The crash suspended LIRR evening service to Ronkonkoma and Huntington/Port Jefferson in both directions. Officials said the impact caused "significant damage" to roughly 200 feet of third rail.

LIRR president Philip Eng said last night that the eastbound train was traveling at full speed when it struck the vehicle. "The gates were down, the lights were flashing. We've confirmed that they were functioning," he told reporters. "Witnesses have said the vehicle went around the gates, at which point the train that was leaving—heading eastbound—and the vehicle, collided."

NBC reports that according to federal safety data, Tuesday night's crash "was the fifth incident at the crossing in the last 40 years, and the second involving a train hitting a vehicle. There were 2,115 grade-crossing crashes in the U.S., resulting in 271 deaths. That was the highest yearly grade-crossing death toll in a decade."

The investigation is ongoing at the crash site. Governor Andrew Cuomo is calling for a full review by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The Westbury crash was the second fatal incident on the LIRR on Tuesday. Hours earlier, a pedestrian was fatally struck by a westbound train on the tracks between stations in Baldwin and Freeport, an LIRR spokesman told the Times.

LIRR service remained limited on the Huntington/Port Jefferson & Ronkonkoma lines for this morning's rush hour commute. Check LIRR for more details as the day progresses.