Saturday, just before 11:00 a.m., a commuter train had a collision with a silver Hyundai Sonata in Los Angeles, California. The Hyundai was headed eastbound and then turned north near Exposition Blvd. and Watt Way. As the Hyundai turned onto the tracks, an eastbound light-rail Metro train was approaching the crossing. It is believed that the driver of the car did not see the commuter train when it attempted to cross the tracks, causing the collision.
The Hyundai has been reported as totaled in the collision. The commuter train had three cars. The first car derailed and went through a metal fence and across a median. The Hyundai was jammed between a pole and the train from the collision. The Jaws of Life were necessary to extract the driver from the car before he was transported to the nearest hospital. The driver’s condition is described as grave. A continuing investigation will determine how fast the train was moving at the time of the collision. Usually commuter trains travel at approximately 35 miles an hour.
A triage area was set up on the front lawn of the museum near the accident. There are 21 people reported injured. Ten of the injured were treated at local hospitals. Again, the driver of the Hyundai is in grave condition and the train operator is said to be in critical condition. All of the other injured passengers were able to walk away with cuts and bruises.
Where the accident occurred, Metro trains run down the middle of Los Angeles’ Exposition Boulevard and cars travel west and east on either side of the tracks. The USC campus is on the north side of the boulevard and the Museum of Natural History is on the south side. This is an extremely busy area. It is believed the driver of the Hyundai was headed down a side street on campus, that comes to a dead end into a parking lot.
Metro trains are made to be pulled or pushed and this one was being pulled. The trains that are pulled are operated from the front car. The train operator was in the very front of the first car of the train, causing him to be critically injured. Several blocks of Exposition Blvd. had to be shut down while the train cars were being removed. The agency hoped to have service restored by Saturday evening. Until then, shuttle buses were going to be made available for commuters to get around the wreckage.
If the derailment will not be cleared in time, and is going to cause traffic issues for the 6:30 p.m. soccer game on Saturday, between Mexico and Ecuador at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum near campus, accommodations will be made. Shuttle buses will be made available to accommodate the sold-out crowd of 90,000 people.
There have been an array of train and vehicle collisions across the United States the past few months. In February, 50 people were injured and an engineer was killed when an LA-bound Metrolink collided with a pick-up truck and flipped three rail cars, as well as destroying the truck. Three weeks before that, in New York City, six people were killed when a Metro-North commuter collided with a vehicle at a crossing and became derailed.
By Jeanette Smith
Photo courtesy of Alissa Walker – Flickr License