Los Angeles commuter train collides with freight train; over two dozen killed

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Firefighters stand near a locomotive on September 12, 2008 after a Metrolink passenger liner collided with a Union Pacific freight train near Chatsworth, California.
Image: Craig Wiggenhorn.

At least 25 people have been killed and many more injured when a Metrolink commuter train collided yesterday afternoon with a Union Pacific freight train in the Chatsworth district of Los Angeles. Around 250 firefighters have responded to the accident scene.

Estimates are that 350-400 people were on the number 111 commuter train which departed from Los Angeles' Union Station at 3:35pm PDT. The collision occurred on Friday at about 4:25pm PDT on Metrolink's Ventura County Line. The area in which the crash took place is hilly and contains a single track; it is just north of the Chatsworth Metrolink station.

The force of the collision sent the locomotive of the Metrolink train to penetrate deep into the lead bi-level passenger car of the three-car train. The collision then knocked the Union Pacific and Metrolink locomotives on their side along with the lead passenger car.

Cquote1.svg This is the worst accident I’ve ever seen. Clearly the injuries are going to mount and so are the fatalities. Cquote2.svg

Antonio Villaraigosa, Mayor of Los Angeles

According to various sources, upwards of 10-15 passengers, possibly even more than 20, have been killed, including a Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officer. The LAPD has not released the name of the officer. The engineer of the Metrolink train is believed to be another of the fatalities.

The number of injured is believed to be 135, although the precise number is still unclear. According to emergency responders, the injured have been transported to Los Angeles area hospitals, including the University of California, Northridge Hospital Medical Center, Providence Holy Cross Medical Center and Huntington Hospital.

“This is the worst accident I’ve ever seen. Clearly the injuries are going to mount and so are the fatalities,” Mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, said.

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It is unclear how the accident occurred. Some of the possibilities include a signal malfunction, a failure by a crew member to notice a signal or a lapse in protocol for moving trains safely in the area. According to Metrolink and the Los Angeles Times, the National Transportation Safety Board has a team on scene and is investigating.

In an apparently unrelated incident less than an hour after the crash in Chatsworth, another Metrolink train collided with a car in Corona, California, killing the female driver of the automobile.

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Sources

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