A look at victims of New York commuter train-SUV wreck

AP News
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Posted: Feb 05, 2015 12:11 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — A driver heading home from her jewelry shop job, a Metropolitan Museum of Art curator and a fellow commuter with a long career in finance were among those killed when a train hit an SUV at a suburban rail crossing. A look at the victims, whose employers, families and friends have identified them as among the dead:

ELLEN BRODY

Ellen Brody, the SUV's driver, worked at a suburban jewelry store, helped found a student news network and was involved in almost everything at her synagogue, friends and her rabbi said.

And the 49-year-old mother of three was mindful of safety, said Paul Feiner, a longtime friend and the town supervisor in Greenburgh, a community near the crash site.

She was not "somebody who was careless — not risky when it came to her safety or others," he said.

Brody and her husband, author and journalist Alan Brody, had three daughters in their teens and 20s. They've been active in Chabad of the Rivertowns throughout the synagogue's 12 years. She was "the connector" who helped create camaraderie there, Rabbi Benjy Silverman said.

"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.

Silverman told The Wall Street Journal that when he was looking for a couple to demonstrate Jewish wedding traditions to children, the Brodys volunteered, re-enacting the ceremony in a tuxedo and wedding dress and dancing at the afterparty.

Whomever she encountered "always left smiling," co-worker Virginia Shasha told WABC-TV.

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ROBERT DIRKS

Robert Dirks, 36, of Chappaqua, New York was "a brilliant scientist who made tremendous contributions to our own research, and to the broader scientific community," according to his employer, D. E. Shaw Research.

He earned his bachelor's degree from Wabash College and a PhD in chemistry at the California Institute of Technology.

The company said he worked in the "development of novel computational chemistry methods." His father told The New York Times that Dirks had an easier way to describe his complex job. "He used to say — 'Dad, just say I'm a scientist; then they can understand.'"

The father of two young children was born in his mother's native Bangkok, Thailand, his father said. His wife also formerly worked for D.E. Shaw.

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WALTER LIEDTKE

During his 35 years as a Metropolitan Museum of Art curator, Walter Liedtke gave millions of visitors a window on legends.

He organized dozens of major exhibitions that featured the works of Rembrandt, Vermeer and other renowned artists, and wrote dozens of articles and books, from 1982's "Architectural Painting in Delft" to 2008's "Vermeer: The Complete Paintings."

"He will long be remembered for his vast knowledge, his wit and a passion for art that inspired all who came in contact with him," the museum said.

With a master's degree from Brown University and a doctorate from the University of London's Courtauld Institute, Liedtke taught at Ohio State University for four years in the 1970s before getting a fellowship and then a job at the Met, according to a 2009 interview on the Dutch and Flemish art site Codart.

"When asked what my favorite painting in the Met might be, I sometimes explain that historians don't think that way," he said, "and then answer frankly that it depends on my frame of mind."

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JOSEPH NADOL

Joseph Nadol was a JPMorgan Chase & Co. executive.

He was a managing director and analyst who covered the aerospace and defense industries. He joined JPMorgan in 2001 after five years at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette.

"Our thoughts and support are with Joe's family during this difficult time," the company said in a statement.

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ADITYA TOMAR

Aditya Tomar of Danbury, Connecticut, worked in asset management at JPMorgan. He was born in India, and was married, with no children.

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ERIC VANDERCAR

Eric Vandercar spent his career in finance — and a lot of his free time in the freewheeling world of jam-band fans.

Vandercar, 53, worked at Morgan Stanley for 27 years before moving to Mesirow Financial last March, according to Mesirow. He was a senior managing director in the Chicago-based firm's institutional sales and trading office in New York.

"Eric was not only a pillar in our industry, he was a great partner and friend to many," Mesirow said.

Vandercar focused on tender option bonds — complex financial transactions involving local-government bonds. He earned an MBA from New York University and bachelor's degrees from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and School of Engineering and Applied Science, according to Mesirow.

The married father was a familiar figure among jam band aficionados who make and circulate live-show recordings, generally with the bands' approval.

"Words can't express how devastated we are today," the band moe. — the period is part of the name — posted on its website Wednesday. Vandercar saw the group play last month in Jamaica, the band wrote, adding that members would remember him enjoying music and hanging out backstage, "chatting with that easy smile of his."

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Associated Press writers Meghan Barr, Verena Dobnik and Jennifer Peltz contributed to this report.