Metrolink Hopes To Open Tracks Wednesday After Injury Crash, Derailment

(FOX 11 / CNS) Metrolink service is expected to resume between Oxnard and downtown Los Angeles this afternoon, a day after a Metrolink train struck a truck on the tracks in Oxnard and derailed, injuring 28 people, four critically.

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The section of single track where the crash occurred was reopened at 6a.m., said Francisco Castillo, a spokesman for Union Pacific Railroad. The rail company owns and operates the track, which is shared by other rail operators.

Scott Johnson of Metrolink told City News Service the commuter rail agency "anticipates resuming full service" by this afternoon, which is when the next trains are scheduled to travel through the area.

Crews worked into the night to remove the damaged train cars from the scene and make repairs.

Following Tuesday's 6 a.m. crash, a "bus bridge" was used to shuttle passengers between Oxnard and Moorpark. Metrolink operated the regularly scheduled service between Moorpark and Union Station with buses provided for passengers traveling from Camarillo, Oxnard and East Ventura.

Amtrak resumed limited service to San Luis Obispo today, with the Pacific Surfliner running on a limited schedule. The Coast-Starlight 11 and 14 trains to Seattle were to run as normal, but with some delays, Amtrak said.

The crash occurred just east of the Oxnard Station, near Rice Avenue and Fifth Street. Ventura County Line Train 102 was en route to Union Station in downtown Los Angeles when the crash occurred, said Jeff Lustgarten of Metrolink.

The four passenger cars and the locomotive -- which was at the rear, pushing the train -- derailed. The three forward passenger cars tipped over on their sides, Johnson said.

Oxnard police said the driver of the produce truck -- 54-year-old Alejandro Sánchez Ramirez of Yuma, Arizona -- was found disoriented about a mile and a half from the scene.

Ramirez was taken to a hospital to be examined and was later arrested on suspicion of felony hit-and-run, officials said. He was driving a 2005 F-450 truck towing a trailer with some type of equipment inside, possibly welding equipment, they said.

His attorney, Ron Bamieh, told the Ventura County Star that Ramirez had unsuccessfully tried to move the truck, and then panicked when he saw the train lights. He said Ramirez ran to get help after the crash as he did not have his phone with him.

Ramirez does not speak English and was unable to make the two people he saw understand what had happened, Bamieh said.

"He didn't leave the scene, he went for help," Bamieh said.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the Ramirez has been cited for multiple driving violations in his home state, and was convicted in 1998 of driving under the influence.

Following Tuesday's crash, 50 people were assessed at the scene for possible injuries, and 28 of them were transported for hospital treatment, four of them in critical condition, according to fire officials. They said 22 other people were initially treated and released at the scene, but two of them later went to hospitals on their own for treatment.

No fatalities were reported. One of the critical patients was the Metrolink engineer. Doctors on Wednesday said the engineer went into cardiac arrest as his heart stopped twice on Wednesday, but it is now stable.

The train consisted of four passenger cars and a locomotive at the rear, Johnson said. The engineer was in the first passenger car -- known as the "cab car" -- and was operating the train from there. The engineer and the conductor were among the injured, Johnson said.

The cab car, along with the third and fourth passenger cars, were newer cars, equipped with "collision energy management technology," which is designed to "send the impact outward instead of inward and prevent crumpling," Johnson said. The second passenger car was an older car, retrofitted to accommodate bicycles.

The National Transportation Safety Board dispatched a "go-team" to the scene from Washington, D.C., to investigate the crash.

Metrolink passengers can call (800) 371-LINK for more information. Follow Metrolink on Twitter for more info: @Metrolink

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