California commuter train collides with truck
Published: Tuesday, January 7, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 6, 2003 at 10:22 p.m.
BURBANK, Calif. - A Southern California commuter train smashed into a truck Monday morning in a fiery rush-hour accident that killed the truck driver and injured 32 others, two critically, authorities said.
Witnesses said the crossing gates were lowered and the signal lights were flashing before the truck - a pickup or flatbed - went onto the track, the railroad said.
The 450-ton Metrolink train tore the truck in two, carrying some of the wreckage down the track while the rest exploded in flames.
The train was carrying 58 passengers and a crew of two from the Santa Clarita Valley to downtown Los Angeles, Metrolink spokeswoman Sharon Gavin said. The accident happened 10 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.
The train had four passenger cars and an engine at the rear. All five cars jumped the tracks. One passenger car came to rest with one end sticking up in the air. Two cars fell onto their sides.
Ryan Schatz, 26, of Valencia was seated in the second car when it rolled over.
"I couldn't see what we hit. I saw the fire go by and that was it," he said. Some people were in shock, but "there were quite a few people able to walk out."
Fire Department Battalion Chief David Starr said 12 people were taken to hospitals and 20 others were treated for minor injuries. Two people were listed in critical condition. The identity of the truck driver was not immediately released.
Greg Peale, a witness, told KABC-TV that at the time of the crash, the gates were down and the signal lights were flashing.
The train's data recorder will be examined to determine speed and other information, Gavin said. Commuter trains typically reach no more than 50 mph in the area, Starr said.
It was the worst Metrolink accident since a freight train hit a commuter train April 23 in Placentia, killing two people and injuring more than 200. Metrolink operates commuter trains over seven routes in Southern California, carrying about 33,500 riders on 138 trains each weekday. The service began in 1992.
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