A fiery car crash on railroad tracks in Rockland County Sunday afternoon killed two people, including a high school student, injured another and suspended the NJ Transit rail service into Monday morning.
Witnesses say the vehicle fell from a Route 304 overpass above the tracks between Woodcliff Lake and Nanuet. The vehicle with three passengers crashed with another car before plunging off the overpass and caught fire.
Locals call the area that's known for serious accidents the "dead man's curve."
Aisha Radoncic, 17, was the driver of the vehicle and it's unclear how she lost control of the vehicle but Pearl River School District student Altin Nezaj, 17, and Sanih Cekic, 15, of Brooklyn — Radoncic's cousin — were killed in the incident, according to school officials and Orangetown police.
The driver of the other vehicle involved in the incident was not injured, police said but they could not immediately provide other details of how the crash occurred.
A number of neighbors in the area grabbed home fire extinguishers to try and put out the flames while others tried prying open the passenger doors to help the man and woman inside, witnesses say.
"When I got there I heard this girl screaming," said Joe Geppner, one of the witnesses who tried to put out the fire. He says he thought he had put the fire out but when firefighters pulled a woman and a man from the vehicle, the flames started back up.
Firefighters were able to put the blaze under control but rail service on the Pascack Valley Line was suspended in both directions between Woodcliff Lake and Nanuet in Pearl River, officials say.
An ongoing investigation may impact the service into Monday morning.
Another Pearl River High School student was also critically injured, district officials said.
"When our school community experiences a tragedy, such as the loss of a young life, it impacts all of us. Our thoughts and prayers are with the students and their families and friends at this incredibly difficult time, " said Pearl River School District Superintendent Marco F. Pochintesta.
In addition, Pochintesta says counselors will be available for students. A memorial was growing at the spot where the car crashed to the ground from the overpass.
In Queens, mourners were lined up and down the street outside of a mosque to pay their respects for the 15-year-old Cekic — so many people that there was no room inside.
Cekic's father was overcome with emotion, saying his daughter "did everything to make me happy."
"She was my strength, she’s never said a bad word to anybody," he said through tears.
Radoncic's father said she suffered minor injuries, but the pain she feels is in her heart, knowing her younger cousin did not survive.
An investigation into the crash is ongoing, but investigators do not believe drugs or alcohol played a role.