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Syosset VFW Commander Michael Grande was killed after his car was hit by a LIRR train in Syosset. Photo by Kevin Imm

Michael Grande, a resident of Muttontown, died on Feb. 13 after his car was hit by a Long Island Rail Road train at the Robbins Lane crossing in Syosset.

Grande was a World War II Veteran of the Army Air Force and worked as a pharmacist and surgical supplies salesman before retiring. He was also the Commander of Syosset's VFW Post 6394.

Grande was involved in many different aspects of the VFW Post - from preparing sausage and peppers for meetings to planning events to fixing cabinets at the Post. He was very involved with the Post even before he became Commander and he had also served as House Chairman.

"He was very hard working in the Post," said good friend Gus Scutari. "He was such a friendly man."

Grande was also a member of the Residents for a More Beautiful Syosset.

"Mike was an outstanding community volunteer. We will truly miss him," said Laura Schultz, vice president of the Residents group.

Senior Vice Commander Arthur Celuzza will be the new Commander, but the members have already determined it will take three or four people to replace the work that Grande did for the Post and the dedication that he had.

The accident is still under investigation by the Long Island Rail Road, MTA Police, Federal Railroad Administration and the Public Transportation Safety Board. Three sources of data are being analyzed - the event recorder on the train, the event recorder on the gate and the one for third rail power.

The MTA Police Department is still asking anyone with information to call 212-878-1000.

On Feb. 13, approximately an hour before the accident, repair work was done to the gate at the Robbins Lane Crossing. "The repair was unrelated to the up and down mechanism of the gate," said Joe Calderone, LIRR spokesperson.

Calderone explained that, according to preliminary data, the gate was down for 20 seconds as the eastbound Huntington train approached the Robbins Lane crossing and it left the horizontal position for 2.5 seconds and then returned. "It takes 7 seconds for the gate to go to the full upright position," said Calderone. "We are looking at what caused the gate to go up at all."

"The Long Island Rail Road extends our deepest sympathy to Michael Grande's family," said Calderone.

Services were held at Thomas F. Dalton Funeral Homes earlier this week and Grande was laid to rest at Holy Rood Cemetery. He is survived by many loving family members and friends.

The tragic and shocking death of Michael Grande is a reminder of how precious each and every day of our lives are," said Senator Carl Marcellino. "Michael's distinguished service to his country both as an Air Force Veteran of World War II and as an active member in the VFW will remain an uplifting memory to all of his friends and family. I extend my deepest sympathy to his daughter Jean and his entire family."


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