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

Published February 5, 2015 7:15AM (EST)

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


Ellen Brody, the SUV's driver, worked at a suburban jewelry store, helped found a student news network in her town 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, where she was "definitely the connector" who helped create camaraderie, 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.

Whoever she encountered "always left smiling," Virginia Shasha, a co-worker at the jewelry shop, told WABC-TV.



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

He organized dozens of major exhibitions that featured the works of Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals 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 in a statement.

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. He relished working among its large, specialized curatorial staff — and its collection.

"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."



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 in a statement.

Vandercar focused on what are known as 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.

A married father, Vandercar 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 as recently as 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."


Jennifer Peltz and Verena Dobnik contributed.


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