Saugerties police arrest taxi driver in fatal train crash

The taxi cab (Saugerties Police)

The driver of the taxi that was hit by a CSX train in Saugerties on Feb. 16, killing a passenger, was arrested today and charged with the felony of failure to stop at a railroad crossing resulting in a fatal accident and the violation of failure to stop at a stop sign.

Phillip A. Prindle, 43, was operating a 2008 Chevrolet Van owned by Kingston Kabs, Inc., picking up a fare at the end of Doyle’s Lane in Saugerties when police say he drove past a posted stop sign and CSX warning sign and proceeded into the tracks and into the path of an oncoming train without looking. The engine struck the taxi resulting in injury to both Prindle and his front seat passenger, 52-year-old Rodney Smith. Bertha Whispell, 50, of Saugerties, who was seated in the rear of the taxi, was ejected during the crash, and sustained fatal injuries.

According to police, video obtained from the CSX Engine and the DATA recorder from the taxi established that Prindle did not stop and look before driving onto the tracks. At the time of the incident, Prindle submitted to a chemical test of his blood for drugs and alcohol, which established that neither drugs nor alcohol were a contributing factor resulting in the crash.

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The Ulster County District Attorney’s Office, and the New York State Police Collision Reconstruction Unit, assisted police detectives in their investigation.

Prindle was processed at police headquarters and released pending a court appearance on May 31.

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