Train Engineer in Oxnard Crash Dies

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Glenn Steele, the engineer in the MetroLink train that collided with a truck that was abandoned on the tracks has died. The 62 year old was hospitalized at Cedars Sinai since the accident that injured him last week. His hospitalization stay was precarious; his heart stopped twice in one day alone. Although he rallied and was resting with wife and two sons beside him, doctors were not sure of his future prognosis.

This changes everything for Jose Alejandro Sanchez-Ramirez, the Arizona truck driver who abandoned his Ford F-450 on the rails because the wheels got stuck. The truck driver was originally jailed for suspicion of felony hit-and-run. He was released after his lawyer and wife both expressed that he accidentally left his vehicle on the tracks. The Arizona resident does not speak English. Now that Steele has passed away, Sanchez-Ramirez could face stiffer charges, including vehicular manslaughter.

Steele was the longest-serving engineer for the MetroLink commuter train line. Working for 40 years, he had been either the mentor or instructor for a large number of engineers during his tenure. On the day in question, he was at the helm of the train with a trainee. It is unclear what happened in the front cab car right before the crash, but he did everything he knew to do to stop the train and save lives. Thirty passengers were injured when the MetroLink crashed into the truck left on the tracks, but none died. Steel was always the most critically injured, although two other passengers were critically injured.

Steel was only two years from retirement says Karen, his wife of 33 years. She was glad that he died doing what he loved and she wants the whole world to know that she was very proud of him. However, she is angry and pretty unforgiving to the man who caused the accident that took her husband’s life. Sanchez-Ramirez was released and escorted from the jailhouse, face covered and escorted by his family members. The family expressed their “deep sympathy to Mr. Steele’s family” through Ramirez-Sanchez’s lawyer, Ron Bamieh.

TrainDays after the crash, Bamieh and Ramirez-Sanchez’s wife expressed that the truck was accidentally left on the tracks. They said that Jose, unfamiliar with the area, turned onto the train tracks and got them stuck. He abandoned the truck on the train tracks once he realized that he could not free it. His wife disclosed that the family was dealing with the recent death of their daughter from cancer. In addition, they divulged that Ramirez-Sanchez was not up to the trip to California. The family did not give these as excuses for the accident, but used these facts to help explain his state of mind.

The train crash drew the attention of the National Transportation Safety Board. This government agency usually does not investigate train crashes that do not involve deaths, but since this one was so unusual, they felt they had to inspect the scene. Once, there, Robert Sumwalt revealed that that the truck was not stuck on the train tracks.


By Danielle Branch


San Francisco Chronicle
Guardian Liberty Voice

Photo Courtesy of Christian Tavers Flickr
Photo Courtesy of Joe Gratz  Flickr