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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Truck had traveled 80 feet down the railroad tracks from the grade crossing before being hit by Metrolink train in Oxnard, Calif

NTSB: Truck had traveled 80 feet down the railroad tracks from the grade crossing before being hit by Metrolink train in Oxnard, Calif Proposed $30-million project to bridge dangerous Metrolink crossing near scene of Oxnard, Calif., crash has been delayed for years due to lack of money, officials say - @latimes proposed $30-million to $35-million grade separation project that would have prevented Tuesday's crash of a Metrolink commuter train in Oxnard has been delayed for years by a lack of money, officials said Wednesday.. The planned overpass project, which was first considered 15 to 20 years ago, would eliminate the Rice Avenue rail crossing at East 5th Street, which has been identified as one of the most dangerous rail intersections in California. Truck driver arrested for hit and run Attorney for truck driver in Metrolink train crash says incident was 'accident' Truck driver at center of derailment has record 2 / 10 Truck driver arrested for hit and run NTSB seeks answers in California train crash 4 / 10 Metrolink train derails in fiery collision with truck "A $35-million grade separation is no small project for Ventura County," said Darren Kettle, executive director of the county's transportation commission. "The delay is due to a lack of funding -- the Achilles Heel for local transportation projects." Kettle said environmental reviews and preliminary engineering for the bridge project are underway and should be finished by 2016. But construction cannot begin until adequate funding can be secured from the state, U.S. government and Union Pacific Railroad, which controls the crossing. l Related California train crash: Engineer 'touch and go,' heart stopped twice L.A. Now California train crash: Engineer 'touch and go,' heart stopped twiceSee all relatedí Kettle noted that Ventura County has no sales tax to raise money for transportation projects as Los Angeles and Orange counties do. "If money were no obstacle and if everything went smoothly," he said, "the engineering could be done in five years and construction could begin two years after that." The project is important for the region's agricultural business and trucks hauling cargo to and from Port Hueneme. Kettle likened Rice Avenue to Interstate 710, the main portal for the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Officials for Union Pacific declined to comment on the project because the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash between a Metrolink train and a pickup truck and trailer that drove onto the tracks via the crossing. "This is not the first time this has happened," said Rep. Julia Brownley (D-Oxnard). "This is a very, very busy intersection because rail and roads are major parts of goods movement out of Port Hueneme." Robert Comer, a safety consultant in Ohio who has done more than 400 railroad crossing investigations, said he had several concerns about the safety of the Rice Avenue crossing. Though he could not make any conclusions about the cause of the accident, Comer noted that the crossing had a hump in the middle that might cause vehicles and trailers with low clearances to bottom out. He said the southbound lanes on Rice Avenue have room for only a couple of cars between the stop sign at 5th Street and the railroad tracks. If vehicles lined up, there is so little space, he said, a big rig or a car could get trapped in the crossing as a train approached. He also said Rice is a busy street and the tracks are very close to 5th Street, a state route that is heavily traveled by commercial trucks. In one accident, Kettle said, a big rig's trailer extended into the crossing and was struck by a train, but Kettle said he did not know of any vehicles that had bottomed out on the hump in the crossing. The rail intersection also does not have barriers to prevent cars and trucks from entering the right-of-way immediately next to the tracks. But Kettle said this has not been a problem. ==================== February 25, 2015, 5:39 PM Federal officials said Wednesday that they have obtained video taken inside a Metrolink commuter train that captures the moments before and after it hit a truck early Tuesday and derailed in an explosive crash.. Investigators with the National Transportation Board have began reviewing video and event data recorders from the lead train and trailing locomotive, which show the train was traveling under the speed limit of 79 mph, NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt said at a news conference Wednesday. There were no fatalities in the 5:42 a.m. derailment, but 28 of the 50 people involved in the crash were rushed to hospitals with injuries such as broken limbs, head trauma and back and neck pain, according to emergency crews. Attorney for truck driver in Metrolink train crash says incident was 'accident' Show Captionx Attorney for truck driver in Metrolink train crash says incident was 'accident' 1 / 10 w v Attorney for truck driver in Metrolink train crash says incident was 'accident' Attorney for truck driver in Metrolink train crash says incident was 'accident' 1 / 10 Truck driver at center of derailment has record Truck driver at center of derailment has record 2 / 10 Truck driver arrested for hit and run Truck driver arrested for hit and run 3 / 10 NTSB seeks answers in California train crash NTSB seeks answers in California train crash 4 / 10 Metrolink train derails in fiery collision with truck Metrolink train derails in fiery collision with truck 5 / 10 The truck driver, Jose Alejandro Sanchez-Ramirez, 54, of Yuma, Ariz., was arrested on suspicion of felony hit-and-run after he was found wandering more than a mile and a half from the scene of the train derailment, said Jason Benites, assistant chief of the Oxnard Police Department. Investigators said they plan to talk to Sanchez-Ramirez in an effort to find out why his truck was struck 80 feet down the track from the actual crossing. “Why was that truck there? And once it was there, why did it not move?” he said. Investigators, he said, “want to learn anything that we can from his perspective to help explain how that vehicle ended up driving down that railroad track.” Oxnard police initially said Sanchez-Ramirez was attempting to turn his 2005 Ford F-450 onto 5th Street at Rice Avenue when he instead pulled onto the railroad tracks and became stuck. The truck was pulling a trailer carrying welding tools and other equipment. l Related New Metrolink cars' safety features probably reduced casualtiesCALIFORNIANew Metrolink cars' safety features probably reduced casualtiesSee all relatedí 8 ADVERTISEMENT At a news conference Wednesday, the driver’s attorney, Ron Bamieh, said his client did his utmost to move his truck from the path of the oncoming train. "That’s all this was ... an accident," he said. Sanchez-Ramirez, they attorney said, called his son after the crash so that he could explain to police in English what his father was doing and how he ended up at the crash site. Bamieh said Wednesday the truck "could go forward on the tracks, but it couldn't get off the tracks." Sanchez-Ramirez hit his high beams, his lawyer said, and even tried to push his truck out of the way. "He was then forced to flee to save his own life," Bamieh said. Metrolink train derails in Oxnard (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times) Oxnard police Officer Sarah Shobe removes tape in preparation of reopening Rice Avenue on the morning of Feb. 25, a day after the crash. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times) Crews continued to monitor the rail tracks after a night of repairs at the intersection of Rice Avenue and 5th Street in Oxnard. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times) The Metrolink track at the intersection of Rice Avenue and 5th Street in Oxnard was operational Feb. 25 (Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times) Salvage crews work on the derailed Metrolink train cars in Oxnard on Tuesday afternoon. Bamieh said Sanchez-Ramirez had a flip phone -- with no digital maps. He was relying on a printed-out online map and was in the area Tuesday morning only to find the route he would take for a meeting on Wednesday for his job, his attorney said. He added that Sanchez-Ramirez was a good, hard-working man, a resident of Arizona who owns a home in Yuma. A check into his background showed that in 1998 Sanchez-Ramirez pleaded guilty to several violations in a single case, including driving with a blood alcohol content above 0.08%, the legal limit in the state; failure to obey a police officer; having liquor with a minor on the premises and having no insurance. In 2004, he was convicted of a local driving infraction in Yuma and in 2007 cited for failure to obey a traffic-control device. His attorneys plan to file a motion Wednesday afternoon to have him released on his own recognizance. @Joe Rainey it was an accident. despite how much americans like to punish people and put 10% of the population in jail so we can hire more prison guards and cops, the most likely explanation is the dude got his truck stuck on the tracks and saved his own life and didn't break any law. even... at 5:28 PM February 25, 2015 The crash occurred about 80 feet west of the grade crossing where vehicles pass over the tracks, an NTSB investigator said. The impact of the crash sent the truck across the grade crossing, pushing it about 300 feet. Authorities said that a section of track owned by the Union Pacific Railroad that was damaged in the crash had been repaired and was back in service Wednesday morning. Metrolink also relies on the line to service commuters north of the Moorpark station who use the stops in Camarillo, Oxnard and East Ventura. Though Metrolink customers in those areas had to use bus service to connect with the train at the Moorpark station until Wednesday morning, full Metrolink service was restored as of 9 a.m., a Metrolink spokesman said. Safety features of new Metrolink cars After briefly suspending service between San Luis Obispo and Los Angeles on Tuesday, Amtrak announced that it was using the route again Wednesday. Service from L.A. to Seattle was running on a limited basis, the agency said. In Tuesday's crash, the train was traveling at 79 mph when the engineer saw the truck on the tracks at 5th Street and Rice Avenue, authorities said. He pulled the emergency brake seconds before the crash, they said. The crash sent three of the Metrolink train's cars spilling onto the nearby gravel and the adjacent street. At least four people were critically injured, including the engineer, officials said. In recent years, Metrolink has replaced almost its entire fleet of passenger cars with Rotem coaches, considered the state-of-the-art in safety. The cars have crush zones, breakaway tables, improved emergency exits and seating arrangements that can reduce the risk of passengers being thrown into fixtures or each other in an accident. The new passenger cars performed well in Tuesday's crash, officials said. “The injuries came from people being tossed around,” said Keith Millhouse, mayor pro tem of Moorpark in Ventura County and a Metrolink board member. “The Rotem cars received very minor damage. They performed the way they should in terms of collision absorption. This could have been tremendously worse without them.” Tuesday’s crash, however, is the fourth accident involving Metrolink trains that were pushed by locomotives from behind and controlled from the front by a lighter cab car, a passenger coach with an engineer’s station. The practice, which is commonly used by commuter railroads, has been controversial. Some safety experts say that heavier locomotives might have a lower risk of derailment in crashes with motor vehicles on the tracks. For breaking news in California, follow @JosephSerna and @Laura_Nelson on Twitter. ============

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