About 4:30 p.m. today a Metrolink commuter train collided with a freight train in Chatsworth killing at least six people and injuring many more. According to various online and television news sources the Metrolink train was carrying as many as 350 rush hour passengers when it slammed into a freight rain in San Fernando Valley. Firefighters are still pulling commuters from the crumpled passenger cars as I watch their efforts on television.
Attention at the moment is focused on getting everyone out of the mangled cars. Less seriously injured passengers can be seen on both sides of the train. Some milling around and others sitting, they all appear to be in shock. The engine of the Union Pacific freight train engine can be seen laying on its side with the rest of the train bunched up behind it.
At the moment there is no declared cause for the train wreck. There is nothing in the photos, videos or news reports that hints at any cause outside of the negligent operation of the trains themselves.
The Metorlink’s last major crash occurred three and a half years ago when Juan Manuel Alvarez parked an SUV on railroad tracks in front of a oncoming Metrolink train in Glendale, California. Eleven people lost their lives and 180 were injured in that crash. Alvarez was eventually convicted and sentenced to 11 consecutive life sentences.
Certainly the injured and the families of the deceased are going to have monumental claims against one or both of the railroad companies and possibly a slew of others for their injuries, damages and losses. The legal analysis can wait. The injured need attending to and the families of Metrolink commuters are praying, waiting for word to be assured that their loved ones escaped alive.