Truck Causes Fiery Metrolink Crash in Southern California

All four cars* of a Metrolink train derailed sending 28 people to the hospital, four with critical injuries. The southbound Ventura line train was headed to Union Station Los Angeles when it hit the produce truck at 5:45 AM.
February 25, 2015, 6am PST | Irvin Dawid
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"The [truck] was on the Ventura County Line tracks between Camarillo and Oxnard, about 70 miles northwest of Los Angeles, at the time of the collision, just before 6 a.m., according to Metrolink," writes Jonathan Lloyd of NBC Los Angeles on the Tuesday, February 24 crash. Metrolink #102 had left East Ventura at 5:45 AM.

The crash sent at least four cars off the track and toppled three cars on their sides near the rail crossing at 5th Street and Rice Avenue.

While the train was only carrying 51 passengers, reports KTLA 5, the train was being pushed by a diesel-electric locomotive in the rear, so the impact with the truck was taken by the unpowered control car, aka cab car [see "push-pull" trains], unlike the train crash with an SUV that occurred on the Caltrain line in Menlo Park on the San Francisco Peninsula 13 hours earlier at 4:46pm on Monday, killing the 30-year-old motorist.

While Caltrain suffered damage, it was to the diesel-electric locomotive pulling the southbound express train. No passengers were injured. Both trains were estimated to have been traveling at up to 79 MPH.

Driver in custody—crash was "avoidable."

"The driver of the truck involved fled the scene and was later located and taken into custody, Oxnard fire Battalion Chief Sergio Martinez told CNN," reports KTLA 5. "He had 'stopped his produce truck on the tracks,' and 'the accident was likely avoidable,' Oxnard police Sgt. Marc Amon told CNN." An investigation will be launched as to why the vehicle had stopped there.

The crash comes three weeks after the most serious crash on the nation's second busiest rail line, Metro-North, serving communities north of New York City and in Connecticut. Five train passengers in the lead car of the electrified train (not powered by a locomotive) died after the commuter train slammed into an SUV stopped at a rail crossing in Valhalla, Westchester County.

One of the nation's deadliest crashes took place on the same Metrolink line in Chatsworth, California on Sept. 12, 2008, when the train hit a Union Pacific freight train. It was largely blamed on the Metrolink engineer who was said to have been texting on his cell phone at the time.

*Updated on 2/25/2-15 to reflect the accurate number of train cars.

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Published on Tuesday, February 24, 2015 in NBC Los Angeles
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