Washington – Sens. Chuck Schumer and Richard Blumenthal on Wednesday held a joint press conference on the fatal crash between a Metro-North train and an SUV in Valhalla, N.Y. ; and though they were on the same telephone line, they weren’t always on the same page.

In the joint press teleconference, Schumer, D-N.Y., cautioned reporters “it was much too early to point any fingers” of blame in the crash that resulted in six deaths and injuries to 15 others. Blumenthal, D-Conn., meanwhile, insisted the crash was “preventable with the right equipment functioning properly.”

Blumenthal also called for a quick end to federal investigations of the accident, saying the year-long National Transportation Safety Board investigation of a 2013 derailment near Bridgeport was unacceptable.

“What we need now is at least a preliminary assessment,” Blumenthal said.

Schumer, however, said he wanted a thorough investigation, and said that could take time.

The NTSB, the Federal Railroad Administration and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority – the parent company of Metro-North — are all conducting investigations of the accident.

Schumer said he was informed by investigators that the vehicle parked on the tracks was “bulldozed” by the Metro-North train and somehow “snapped” a third, electrified rail that was pushed into a passenger car and sparked a fire. He said the 15 people who were hospitalized suffered injuries from both the impact of the crash and the fire.

Blumenthal, who has become a strong critic of Metro-North operations, said a rail-safety bill he sponsored might have prevented the accident through additional resources for rail crossing guards, new regulations and other measures.

“We’re just asking a lot of questions right now,” Schumer said.

This crash is the deadliest in Metro-North history, and follows a string of accidents that began with the Bridgeport derailment. The accidents prompted the NTSB to criticize the railroad’s safety programs and culture.

Ana has written about politics and policy in Washington, D.C.. for Gannett, Thompson Reuters and UPI. She was a special correspondent for the Miami Herald, and a regular contributor to The New York TImes, Advertising Age and several other publications. She has also worked in broadcast journalism, for CNN and several local NPR stations. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Journalism.

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