Yesterday, the MTA police revealed that, based on a witness's account, a Long Island Rail Road passenger was allegedly allowed to drive the 6:45 a.m. westbound train from Port Jefferson between Hicksville and Hunters Point Avenue. The engineer on duty, Ronald Cabrera, was suspended and that a criminal investigation was opened. Now the witness tells Newsday what he saw, "[The passenger] knocked on the engineer's door and the engineer let him in." When the passenger emerged from the engineer's cab, he asked another ride, "How'd I do?"
The witness, who is anonymous, explained why he called the police, "I thought about it... and I just said, 'You know what? If something happened and there was some kind of accident and the railroad figured out that the engineer was away from the controls and I knew it ... ' He was putting my life at risk and everyone else's on this train." He added that the passenger was a regular on the train who was friendly with LIRR staff, who let him into the engineer's cab other times. What caught his attention what that the train's horn, which usually sounds like short bursts, went "long, loud and a little wild"—"It was like a little kid was driving."
Near Hicksville, the cab's door was opened and the witness observed a stunning sight: The engineer was standing "in the middle of the compartment, away from the controls" and the passenger was out of view, presumably behind the controls. The witness said he got a peek into the cab at other times during the trip, and the engineer and passenger were in those same positions.
Other passengers don't recall seeing another rider in the engineer's cab, but Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice said there could have been "a mass casualty situation," adding, "If these allegations are proven true, at the very least you are talking about the reckless endangerment of thousands of passengers and individuals who live alongside the high-speed track." Her office is also investigating the allegations.