Many people use public transportation including trains to commute to work, for business or for holidays throughout the state of California. It’s generally a very safe way to travel, and in some cases, a faster and more comfortable way to get to their destinations.
However, this method of transportation has its share of accidents and passengers can be seriously injured or killed while riding trains.
In fact, there is a train accident or derailment taking place in the United States every two hours, according to the Federal Railroad Administration. Additionally, there are on average roughly 3,000 train accidents throughout the nation causing injury, death and property damage.
California Accidents Involving Trains
In California, there are roughly 100 collisions involving trains at public highway or road crossings every year, the FRA reports. The number of California fatal crashes has been on the rise since 2011 when 68 deaths were reported. There were 90 deaths in 2012, 100 in 2013 and 129 in 2014. Roughly 500 to 600 people are injured in these types of crashes annually.
Roughly half of the accidents involving railroad trains take place an unprotected railroad crossings and this is due in part because an estimated 80 percent of these crossings lack adequate warning controls, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.
Notable California railroad crashes in Oxnard, Chatsworth and Glendale, demonstrate the types of crashes that are typical in California.
Oxnard Metrolink Train Accident
On February 23, 2015, a motorist driving a pickup truck allegedly stalled on the tracks near the intersection at Rice street. The driver did not call 911 or attempt to alert authorities, but fled the scene on foot. A Los Angeles-bound train was unable to stop and crashed violently into the stopped vehicle. The result was 28 people were injured including four who suffered major injuries. The driver was arrested for felony hit-and-run and possibly other charges.
Chatsworth Metrolink Train Accident
The deadliest train crash in Metrolink’s history took place on September 12, 2008. Two trains collided head-on when the Metrolink passenger train engineer became distracted while text-messaging, ran through a red stop light and onto a single-track where he crashed the train into a Union Pacific freight train whose engineer had been given the right-of-way.
Twenty-five people were killed and 135 injured in the horrific crash that took place near the California State Route 118 Freeway at the intersection of Heather Lee Lane and Andora Avenue. Permanent memorials honoring victims were installed at both Union Station and Simi Valley Station.
Glendale Metrolink Train Accident
Just three years before the Chattsworth train crash became the deadliest Metrolink crash, a collision on January 26, 2005 held that title. This crash took place when a driver abandoned a sport utility vehicle on the tracks just south of the Chevy Chase Drive railroad crossing at the Glendale border with Los Angeles.
The impact caused the train to jackknife and the cars derailed killing 11 people and injuring dozens of others. The driver of the SUV, Juan Manuel Alvarez was arrested and later convicted of 11 counts of murder with special circumstances and arson.
Steps to Take After a Train Accident — Call 800-235-6801 for Help
- Get medical care if you are injured in a train accident.
- Make a report to the company that operates the train
- Contact a personal injury attorney at 800-235-6801
- While you are at the scene of the crash take photographs of yourself and the scene if possible
- Get names of witnesses, police officers or responding fire personnel who were at the scene
- Preserve any evidence
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