By Dana Bartholomew, March 28, 2015
In this still image from video, fire and police members work near a
derailed commuter train that struck a car on Saturday in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles firefighters say nearly two dozen people suffered injuries,
mostly minor, when a commuter train struck a car near downtown Los
Angeles and partially derailed. 21 people on the train were hurt in the
LOS ANGELES >> A three-car Metro Expo Line train smashed into a
car turning onto the tracks Saturday in front of the University of
Southern California, seriously injuring the operator and leaving the
driver of the car close to death. Nineteen passengers escaped with
• Video: Multiple people injured in Metro Expo Line train crash
eastbound train slammed into the car just before 11 a.m. when the
driver tried to make a left turn across the tracks running down the
middle of Exposition Boulevard, police said.
The crash derailed the first two cars of the light-rail train and
obliterated the silver Hyundai. The train, knocked slightly off its
tracks, somehow managed to stay upright.
“We had to use the Jaws
of Life to extricate the driver, and we transported him to a local
hospital,” Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Daniel Curry said at the
scene. “He was in extremely critical condition.”
Neither the operator of the train nor the driver of the car have been publicly identified.
the morning, Los Angeles firefighters attended to the stream of
passengers filing off the stricken train. Of the 19 to suffer mostly
cuts and bruises, eight were taken to nearby hospitals.
“They are still triaging patients from the train; it’s still
uncertain the condition of the driver of the car,” said Ramon
Montenegro, a spokesman for the sheriff’s Transport Policing Division,
early in the day.
Metro spokesman Jose Ubaldo said the car and
train were heading east, with the train running down the center of
Exposition Boulevard when the car swung a left turn toward a USC side
street that dead-ends into a campus parking lot. It was struck by the
nose of the train.
The train hit the car at a traffic signal
between USC and the Museum of Natural History at 934 Exposition Blvd.,
where it was knocked slightly off its tracks near Vermont Avenue,
according to witnesses.
Metro supervisor Diljiat Sandhu said it looked like the car’s
driver was trying to turn left at a grade crossing and didn’t see the
approaching train. What was left of the vehicle was still partly wedged
onto the tracks Saturday afternoon.
Drivers attempting to make
such left turns are normally regulated by a left-turn arrow and flashing
alarms for approaching trains, which encounter signals to stop if cars
turn across the grade crossing.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the signals flashed before the crash.
After the collision, a photo shot from a USC office building across
the street and posted on the Internet showed a crushed car on the
westbound tracks at the Watt Drive signal. The eastbound train rested on
the tracks linking Culver City to downtown Los Angeles.
cars are designed to be pulled or pushed from the front or back. The
wrecked train was being pulled, officials said, with the train operator
perched in the front of the leading car.
Expo Line service in both
directions was cut, and firefighters were warned about a half-hour
after the crash that the train line’s overhead power supply could not be
immediately cut off. The train’s electric arms had been retracted, but
firefighters were warned that low voltage batteries might still be a
Police shut down several blocks of Exposition Boulevard while the Metro crews worked to remove the train.
service through the area was suspended, Sandhu said the transit agency
formerly known as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority was
providing shuttle buses to get riders around the wreck. A “bus bridge”
was set up to ferry Expo Line passengers between the Expo/23rd stop and
the Expo/Vermont station, Montenegro said.
Metro spokesman Ubaldo
said the agency was working to restore rail service by Saturday evening.
That’s when an estimated 90,000 people were expected to fill the
stands of the nearby Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to watch a sold-out
The train was back up and running by 3:30 p.m. up to the
Exposition Park station, according to news reports. The full line was to
reopen by 8 p.m.