- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 7, 2003

BURBANK, Calif. (AP) A Metrolink train carrying morning commuters smashed into a truck at a railroad crossing yesterday, upending two passenger rail cars, killing one person and injuring 32.
The dead man was in the truck, which burst into flames.
About 50 passengers were aboard train No. 210 from the Santa Clarita Valley to Los Angeles when the crash happened at about 9:30 a.m., authorities said.
The truck drove onto the tracks at a crossing where the gates were down and the signal lights were flashing, witness Greg Peale told KABC-TV. Authorities confirmed the signals were working at the time.
Twelve persons were taken to hospitals and 20 others suffered minor injuries, Fire Department Battalion Chief David Starr said.
Ryan Schatz, 26, of Valencia was seated in the second car when it rolled over.
"I couldn't see what we hit I saw the fire go by and that was it," he said.
Some people were in shock, others screamed and yelled, and others remained calm, Mr. Schatz said. "There were quite a few people able to walk out."
Firefighters pulled some passengers from the wreckage and set up a triage area to treat the injured. Passers-by used a metal girder to smash the window of a door on one upended passenger car and helped other people to safety, and some were helped by fellow passengers.
The train had four passenger cars and an engine at the rear. In that mode the train is operated by an engineer in a cab of the lead passenger car.
It was the worst Metrolink accident since a commuter train was struck by a freight train April 23 in Placentia, killing two persons and injuring more than 200.
Investigators believe that crash was caused when the crew of a Burlington Northern-Santa Fe freight train ran two warning signals before plowing into the double-decker Metrolink train. The freight engineer told police he was blinded by the sun and missed a crucial signal light.
Metrolink operates commuter trains over seven routes in six Southern California counties. It carries about 33,500 riders on 138 trains each weekday. The service began in 1992.

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