A truck left abandoned on train tracks led to a train crash that left three train cars derailed and dozens of people injured in Southern California. Federal investigators say they are trying to determine why a pickup truck driver drove on the tracks and left his vehicle behind.
“It was not stuck, it was not bottomed out on the track or something like that,” National Transportation Safety Board member Robert Sumwalt said at a media briefing late Tuesday at the crash site in Oxnard, Fox News reported. Officials had said earlier, immediately after the train derailment, that the driver got stuck on the tracks.
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“We’re very concerned about that, we’re very interested in it,” he said.
The damaged truck’s emergency brake was in the on position and its headlight switch was in the high-beams position after the crash took place around dawn, Sumwalt said.
Eight people were admitted to a local hospital of the 30 people who were originally examined, officials said. Four were in critical condition including the train’s engineer, Fox News reported.
The driver of the truck, Jose Alejandro Sanchez-Ramirez, 54, of Yuma, Arizona, was found 1.6 miles away 45 minutes after the train crash, said Jason Benites, an assistant chief of the Oxnard Police Department.
Police said Sanchez-Ramirez was tested for both drugs and alcohol but they would not discuss the results. He was briefly hospitalized then arrested Tuesday afternoon on suspicion of felony hit-and-run. His Ford F-450 pickup was pushed close to 300 feet down the tracks and ended up on the other side of the rail crossing, Sumwalt said.
Sumwalt says his team has already recovered video and data recorders from the train and were sending them to Washington to be analyzed.
“It’s not your typical grade crossing accident,” he said.
The NTSB planned to examine the effectiveness of the train cars. Passenger trains cars are designed to absorb a crash, Metrolink officials said. They were purchased after a deadly collision 10 years prior. The four passenger cars remained largely intact, as did the locomotive, Fox News reported.
Abandoned Truck Causes 3 Train Cars To Derail, Driver Arrested