Federal Railroad Administration investigators were conducting a thorough investigation to determine the factors that contributed to the collision between a Southern California Metrolink commuter train and a truck. The accident produced a fireball and left 28 people injured, reported The New York Times (2.24.15). At least four people were critically injured, including the train’s engineer.
Jose Alejandro Sanchez Ramirez was driving a produce truck when he turned right onto the tracks, eventually getting stuck there. The train conductor, who was in the first car, spotted the truck on the tracks and pulled the emergency brake, but he train could not stop in time. The train hit the truck and several cars derailed. Injuries sustained in the accident included broken bones and head, neck and back injuries.
Ramirez, 54, was arrested on a felony hit-and-run charge, according to The New York Times, citing a spokesperson from the Oxnard Police Department. He had fled the scene and was not in the truck at time of crash. Police said the driver was “disoriented” when he was found.
The Federal Railroad Administration generates accident prediction values for railroad crossings. The accident prediction value is the probability that a collision between a train and a highway vehicle will happen at the crossing in the period of a year. However, the New York Times said it was “not a perfect measurement of danger.” The metric takes into account certain physical characteristics of crossings and recent accidents. It does not account for other factors, like topography and traffic congestion.
The truck-train crash occurred at a California crossing considered potentially dangerous. Only 52 public crossings in the nation were listed with a higher accident prediction value. California has 5,858 public crossings.
There were 13 crashes involving trains and pedestrians or vehicles at the same crossing since 1976, according to The New York Times, citing Federal Railroad Administration records. Seven months ago, the intersection was the scene of a fatal collision between an Amtrak passenger train and a car.
In addition to a fast response by the train’s crew, new safety technology on the trains was credited for helping to lessen the number of injuries from the accident. New Metrolink passenger cars have “crush zones” on their ends. These zones work similarly to the “crumple zones” in newer cars. They are designed to absorb the impact of a collision while keeping people inside safe.
Oxnard is about 65 miles northwest of Los Angeles.
When someone is injured or killed in a train accident, an experienced lawyer can fight for a victim’s rights and the compensation he, she or loved ones deserve.
The New York Times article cited is “Metrolink Train Headed to Los Angeles Crashes Into Truck, Injuring Dozens.”