At least 28 people were injured, including 4 critically, early Tuesday morning at 5:45 am when a Metrolink commuter train couldn’t break soon enough and derailed and collided with an abandoned tractor-trailer truck, fully engulfing the truck in flames, on the tracks in Ventura County, northwest of Los Angeles. There were 48 passengers aboard and 3 crew members who were all injured.
The distressed driver of the totaled Ford F-450 pickup truck, Jose Alejandro Sanchez-Ramirez, 54, of Yuma, Arizona, was found by police about 1 1/2 miles from the crossing 45 minutes after the crash. He was briefly hospitalized then arrested Tuesday afternoon on suspicion of felony hit-and-run.
Police said they tested Sanchez-Ramirez for drugs and alcohol but they would not discuss the results, according to Yahoo News.
Sanchez-Ramirez’s wife, Lucila Sanchez, told The Times that he jumped out of the truck when he saw the train approaching and couldn’t restart his engine. “It’s not his fault,” she said.
When the train crashed, 3 of the train’s 5 cars toppled over, sending 30 people to the hospital with back and neck injuries, broken bones, and head trauma. “It seemed like an eternity while we were flying around the train. Everything was flying,” said passenger Joel Bingham. “A brush of death definitely came over me.”
Lives were likely saved by passenger cars designed to absorb a crash. Some of the Metrolink cars in the crash were equipped with collision energy management technology, which was purchased and implemented after a deadly collision a decade ago, Metrolink officials said, when a train traveling the same route was involved in a crash in 2008 that killed 25 and injured 135. This time, no one died from the impact and the passenger cars remained largely intact, as did the locomotive.