California Commuter Train Versus Truck Injures Dozens

By Chris Christoff and Esmé E. Deprez | February 25, 2015

Twenty-eight people were injured when a Southern California commuter train collided with a truck stuck on the tracks on Tuesday, toppling three rail cars.

There were no deaths reported in the crash, which occurred at about 5:40 a.m. local time in Oxnard about 65 miles (105 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles, according to police officials.

“I’ve seen some pretty gnarly accidents, and it’s pretty incredible that we didn’t have any fatalities,” said Mike Lindbery, public information officer for the Ventura County Fire Department.

The truck and its box trailer were destroyed by an ensuing fire. The truck driver was distressed and disoriented when he was found walking on a street nearby, according to Jason Benites, Oxnard’s assistant police chief.

trainsThe driver, identified by police as Jose Alejandro Sanchez Ramirez of Yuma, Arizona, was arrested on suspicion of felony hit-and-run, Oxnard Assistant Police Chief Jason Benites said at a news conference. Ramirez abandoned the truck and was found more than a mile away, Benites said. It was unclear how the truck became stuck on the tracks.

The charred chassis of the trailer was visible hours after the crash as dozens of firemen in jumpsuits and other workers in bright yellow vests milled about.

The train, headed south toward Los Angeles, was being pushed by a locomotive.

The injured were taken to five area hospitals in 13 ambulances, said Steve Carroll of the Ventura County Emergency Medical Services. Injuries included fractures and contusions affecting the spine, neck and head.

Two busloads of passengers who weren’t hurt were taken to the Oxnard transportation center, said the city’s police chaplain, Daniel Green.

Oxnard Mayor Tim Flynn said there’s been a proposal for years to build a bridge for cars over the train track intersection. A recent crash there left two dead.

The National Transportation Safety Board said it’s investigating.

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