The harrowing early-morning collision, between Camarillo and Oxnard, of a Metrolink commuter train and a truck, in which the truck driver apparently tried to flee, left an estimated 30 Los Angeles–bound commuters injured, including four in critical condition. It is not known if anyone was killed, and authorities have thus far reported only injuries.
The early-morning train generally carries commuters into the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles from increasingly upscale Ventura County suburban areas to the northwest once covered in farms. Current reports are that 28 have been hospitalized.
The truck, described as a produce truck carrying a trailer, was straddling the Ventura County Line tracks about one hour northwest of Los Angeles in the predawn hours. Metrolink says three cars were toppled onto their sides near Fifth Street and Rice Avenue, and the truck was sheared in half and burst into flames.
Early reports have the driver trying to flee the scene — a bizarre story, if accurate, given the total destruction to the truck.
Fire-rescue personnel set up a color-coded triage area with green, yellow and red tarps at the site. The tarps indicate the severity of the victim's injuries, with red being the most serious and green indicating minor injuries. All Ventura County Line trains will be delayed, with tracks remaining closed between Oxnard and Camarillo. Trains will travel as far as Oxnard, where buses will provide transport.
It's another disaster for Metrolink, which last month made headlines due to the accidental death of TV bodybuilder, West Point grad and former Army Ranger Greg Plitt, who tripped while running on the Metrolink track in Burbank. He was killed by an oncoming commuter train.
Friends of Pitt's told the media he was filming action video for his well-known workout and motivational website and simply made a terrible error.
Metrolink has enacted numerous reforms after the tragic and preventable 2008 accident on its line in Chatsworth in the San Fernando Valley, when 25 evening commuters were killed as the train operator, who died with the passengers, became engrossed in texting on his cellphone. The train blew past its red light and collided head-on with an oncoming freight train, which had been given the right of way by a train dispatcher.
Oxnard police Sgt. Denise Shadinger said this latest crash occurred at 5:44 a.m., when the rails still would have been shrouded in dim dawn lighting. Shadinger said the truck became fully engulfed in flames. Authorities are describing the scene as a multicasualty incident.
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According to Fox News:
A Ventura County fire official told Fox News that the driver of the tractor trailer survived the crash and fled the scene. He was apprehended less than a mile from the crash site, the official said.
The collision toppled three passenger cars, while a fourth car was derailed but was not toppled.
News helicopters showed chaotic images of the tumbled cars but fairly calm handling of the situation by firefighters and other paramedics, who were treating people on tarps thrown onto the adjacent street, in an area largely made up of produce farms, malls and single-family homes.