Truck Driver Behind CA Metrolink Derailment
Chris Welsh, Esq.
A truck driver making a bad turn onto railroad tracks is the cause of the recent pre-dawn derailment of a California commuter train that put twenty-eight people in local hospitals, four in critical condition.
Jose Alejandro Sanchez Ramirez, 54, of Arizona, claims to have taken a wrong turn onto the tracks where he faced a head-on collision and abandoned the truck beforehand. He was found 1 ½ miles away and has been charged with a felony hit-and-run. Thus far, investigation
shows that the truck may have become stuck on the tracks.
Upon collision, the truck was engulfed in flames and four Metrolink rail cars derailed, three of which turned over. Train engineers say that the design of the seats and shock absorption technology of the seats likely prevented even more serious injuries. Of the twenty-eight sent to local hospitals, injuries include range from head trauma to neck and back injuries. Eight people were admitted for further treatment.
Metrolink vows that safety is its top priority. Last year, the commuter rail service unveiled a new technology that uses GPS and other systems to determine when it should slow or stop the train to avoid an accident. This “positive train control” is similar to “F-CAMS” suggested in big rig trucks, both go into action if drivers and train engineers do not. The train control system is said to even override the train engineer (USA Today). The system was not set-up on the line involved in this accident.
Sadly, train accidents are more common than they should be. Metrolink’s most tragic collision occurred in 2008, when a commuter train collided with a Union Pacific freight train, killing twenty-five people. More recently in 2013, a train derailed outside of New York City, killing four people. Speed and engineer fatigue were said to be contributing factors.
To learn more about this incident and those injured, visit latimes.com.