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Commuter Train Collides With S.U.V.

Large Truck Accidents | Featured Articles

January 27 2005 - Commuter Train Collides With S.U.V.

A man the police described as deranged and suicidal abandoned an S.U.V. on a heavily traveled commuter rail track here early Wednesday, causing a violent wreck involving three trains that left at least 11 people dead and nearly 200 injured.

Rescue workers arrived quickly and were aided by Costco workers who pulled injured passengers from the smoking wreckage. More than 120 people, dozens with serious injuries, were taken to 15 hospitals.

The Glendale police said that Juan Manuel Alvarez, 25, of Compton, a Los Angeles suburb, had driven around barriers at a grade crossing and then up the Metrolink commuter rail tracks, where his Jeep Cherokee became wedged between the rails.

He apparently changed his mind about killing himself, abandoned the vehicle and watched the crash, the Glendale police chief, Randy G. Adams, said. Chief Adams said that before driving onto the tracks Mr. Alvarez cut his wrists and stabbed himself in the chest, inflicting superficial wounds. He was treated for his injuries and taken into custody. Chief Adams said the crash was caused solely by the actions of Mr. Alvarez.

He said Mr. Alvarez was cooperating with the authorities and had acknowledged causing the wreck. “He was very distraught and upset when he realized he caused a major disaster,” the chief said. Mr. Alvarez is in jail and under suicide watch, he added.

Chief Adams and other law enforcement officials expressed dismay and anger at what they called a preventable man-made disaster.

The crash was the deadliest train accident in the United States since March 15, 1999, when an Amtrak train hit a truck and derailed near Bourbonnais, Ill., killing 11 people. A crash in Graniteville, S.C., this month ruptured a chlorine tank, leaving nine people dead and 234 injured.

People on the train and in the neighborhood saw Mr. Alvarez as he ran away from his vehicle. Slowed by his knife wounds, he was arrested quickly, the police said.

Witnesses described a horrific collision that upended several double-decker rail cars and toppled the idle heavy diesel Union Pacific locomotive attached to cars loaded with gravel and sitting on a side track.

Costco workers attended to the injured and used carts that usually haul plywood to carry the injured when paramedics ran out of gurneys. The store provided food and water for the hundreds of fire and rescue crews who descended on the crash site in the damp gloomy dawn.

Firefighters went through the wreckage five times with dogs and listening devices before determining that all the passengers had been accounted for.

The mayor of Glendale, Bob Yousefian, called on federal transportation authorities to eliminate all grade crossings, which account for scores of accidents and suicides each year around the country.

Trains on the line can travel as fast as 79 miles per hour, but the two trains involved in the crash were probably going slower because the southbound train was approaching the Glendale station and the northbound train had just left it, Mr. Solow said. He said that the exact speeds, the various points of impact and the overall force of the collision would be determined by National Transportation Safety Board investigators.

In all large truck cases it is essential that measures be taken promptly to preserve evidence, investigate the accident in question, and to enable physicians or other expert witnesses to thoroughly evaluate any injuries. If you or a loved one is a victim of a large truck accident, call the Truck Accident Lawyers Group, Inc. now at (877) 736-4222 or CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT A SIMPLE CASE FORM. The initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to accept your case, we will work on a contingent fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary award or recovery of funds. Don't delay! You may have a valid claim and be entitled to compensation for your injuries, but a lawsuit must be filed before the statute of limitations expires.