Train wreck in Placentia, CA

Dwightman Apr 23, 2002

  1. Dwightman

    Dwightman TrainBoard Member

    Just saw on Fox News where a BNSF train rear-ended a Metrolink communter train. Will try to find more info.

  2. Dwightman

    Dwightman TrainBoard Member

    Here's a short report from the AP:

    Passenger Train, Freight Train Collide

    Ok, it's not so short anymore.
    Also, to correct my earlier post, it was a head-on collision at slow speed.

    [ 23 April 2002, 16:19: Message edited by: Dwightman ]
  3. ten87

    ten87 TrainBoard Member

    My wife and I were on the train. I sent the following message to my concerned family and friends. Reader discretion advised:

    Most of you know that my wife and I commute by Metrolink, and have no doubt heard about the crash this morning. My phone has been ringing of the hook, so I wanted to let everyone know at once that we're okay. We were in the second car from the end that was hit by a BNSF train doing 30-40 MPH. For those interested in the details read on, otherwise, hit the delete key...

    We were riding in the second car, about three rows back from the doors. We were approaching the diverging track at Atwood Junction and came to an emergency stop. I looked out the window to see if the crossing arms were broken and could see that they were not. This crossing is notorious for broken arms, and we often have to stop here for the conductor to protect the train through the crossing.

    We could not have been stopped for more than 15-20 seconds when we were struck head-on by the freight train. I ended up on the floor of the isle and Sherry was face first into the chair across the isle from her. A bolt from one of the broken seats had pierced through her right shin. It was bad, but not like some of the others. I helpd Sherry sit upright and checked on the other passengers. There was a pregnant woman on the floor with fluid all over her. I don't know how much of it was coffee. I pulled three chairs off of her and told her to sit still.

    I went back to Sherry and asked her if she could walk. I pulled the emergency door release and shoved the door open. I then pulled Sherry out of the car. I helped several other passengers out and then went to help out with the front car.

    I noticed that we were off the rails, but the train was folded like a jacknife. The train had been shoved backwards about 100 yards from the crossing signal I had been looking at.

    I went to the door and climbed into the first coach. One of the Deputy Sheriff's who writes the tickets was laying across the doorway. Her face was covered in blood and it looked like she had a compound fracture. The conductor was at the front end of the train with his head split open.

    The front car was a war zone. There was blood and injured everywhere. The cars are split level and so I went around the bathroom to go up the stairs. Where the stairs should've been was twisted metal and various fluids dripping down. It was bad. There was at least one fatality there. I had sat in that very spot hundreds of times. I was feeling sick and went out to check on Sherry.

    She was on the ground and her leg was looking bad. I noticed the crash wasn't too far from my parent's house so I called them and they came and got us. I knew the area hospital would be swamped so I had them take us to our usual hospital.

    I've been to homocide scenes before and have seen lots of gross stuff, but it is a lot tougher when it's people you know. We've ridden the train with these same people for years, celebrating birthdays on the train and even having pot-luck breakfasts on board.

    Sherry and I are home safe now. Andy's grandma brought him home from school so the family could be together.

    Would I ride the train again? I told Sherry that I'd be on the one o'clock train in to work if I could be sure it would be running by then.

    Count your blessings. I know I am...
  4. Dwightman

    Dwightman TrainBoard Member


    I'm glad to hear that you and your wife are ok.

  5. HelgeK

    HelgeK TrainBoard Member

    You and your wife are the lucky ones among a lot of other people.
    I saw the video from CBS, and I´m still wonder how such accident can happen. I mean, there are two tracks, and how in h... can two trains be allowed to run on same track?
    Do the RR companies never heard of blocked sections of track, and how about signals.
    Well, just asked some stupid questions - or :confused:
    NARA member #5
  6. Alan

    Alan Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Ed, just saw the crash on our news, it looks bad, and I am really pleased you and your family are ok. Thanks for the graphic description of the scene, it made me more aware of what it must be like in such a situation. Hope Sherry's leg will be all right.
  7. Colonel

    Colonel Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    So glad you and your wife are ok, my condolences to the familes of those killed. It will be interesting to know the cause, my guess is the freight train has passed a signal at stop (SPAD) but it's to early to speculate.
  8. SP 8299

    SP 8299 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Ed, it's good to hear that you and your wife are ok. My condolences go to those that were killed. I was shocked when I saw the photos of what happened this morning. I'm familiar with the area where the accident occured, and have seen plenty of Metrolink (and BNSF) freights go through's hard to see something like this happening.
  9. fitz

    fitz Staff Member

    Ed, thanks for the real news from someone who understands railroads. Listening to those idiot reporters (newly established instant experts) make fools of themselves makes one think about how much else they say can be believed. Sorry, the curmudgeon got carried away again. I truly hope your wife is not seriously injured and am sorry for all of the folks affected by this crash. :(
  10. watash

    watash Passed away March 7, 2010 TrainBoard Supporter In Memoriam

    I'm glad you came through, Ed, sorry about Sherry. You count as a hero to stay and help the others! Its a shame the Metro engineer didn't have time to grab reverse and lessen the impact. Any word on the train crew?
  11. Kevin Stevens

    Kevin Stevens TrainBoard Supporter

    Ed, I'm sorry to hear about your wife's injuries but it is also good news that it isn't too serious. After hearing your clear description of the accident, I feel even a greater sense of sympathy for everyone who was on board the train. I'm at a loss for words, but my thoughts are with you and all who were involved. It sounds as though you reacted in a very thoughtful and unselfish manner when faced with a traumatic and dangerous situation. You should be commended for your actions.
  12. Robin Matthysen

    Robin Matthysen Passed Away October 17, 2005 In Memoriam

    What an experience to go through Ed. Thanks for giving us the information. Sorry your wife and others were injured and for those who didn't make it. Must have been a real shock.
    I was fortunate as a commuter on the GO train system to have had years of safe running with no accidents of any kind.
  13. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

    Ed, I'm very glad to hear that Sherry's injuries are not severe and that you came through OK. It's terrible that there were fatalities in the first car. My deepest sympathy to all.

    ABC News reported that at least one of the BNSF engine crew jumped just before the impact. Did you hear anything of this?
  14. ten87

    ten87 TrainBoard Member

    UPDATE: Sherry and I are both sore, but have no reservations about riding the train in to work tomorrow. Sherry got 11 stiches to her leg, and BNSF owes her some new clothes!

    To answer some of the questions: </font>
    • The curent story coming from the media is that the BNSF blew through a red signal, realized their mistake and called "Emergency" on the radio. Our train went into an emergency stop and the brakes locked, preventing any type of reverse manuever. </font>
    • I've heard several sources about the jumping train crew member, but all the crew from our train was still on board. Maybe the BNSF crew member jumped? </font>
    • The media can't be believed: one station is still saying there was four coaches while we've had hours of helicopter footage showing only the three.</font>
    • Watash, I'm no hero. I've been a peace officer for 16 years and I was just on auto-pilot. I was over-come with the shakes when I saw people that I knew and cared for laying in blood in the twisted wreck. I got sick and jumped back out of the train to be with my wife.</font>
    • Not all the fatalities were in the first car. A man in the last car died of a heart attack.
    While surfing the web for images of the crash, I found this one that someone took as I left the front car to be with Sherry. I'm the chubby guy putting my glasses back on.
  15. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

    Good and lucky photo Ed.

    I didn't know that once brakes had been put into Emergency, the train could not be moved. This does not seem like a good feature, considering that the Engineer might have been able to get your train moving in reverse and lessen the impact. Is this standard practice? Or is it because train air has been totally dumped and must be pumped back up before the train can be moved?
  16. c.a.jon

    c.a.jon TrainBoard Member

    To Hank
    Your last sentence is true. With the air copletely dumped there was no way to recover in time.
  17. Alan Walker

    Alan Walker TrainBoard Member

    In order to release brakes, you would have to come to a stop and allow the air pumps to restore brake pipe pressure. This would take approximately 2-4 minutes at a minimum. It would appear that the BNSF train may have passed a stop signal but that has not been determined as yet. Also, there could have been some malfunction of the signal system but that is less likely. As for reversing the locomotive, I have never heard of that being done with a diesel electric locomotive. With steam locomotives, the choice was reverse the locomotive or apply the air brakes but you wouldn't want to do both at the same time. The reason is that the locomotive and train would skate ahead with locked wheels and you would lose control of all braking. That would most likely happen with a diesel electric locomotive under the same circumstances. Remember that the weights that we are dealing with are in the thousands of tons. Even moving at slow speed, stopping is difficult and a slow speed collision can be deadly. One friend of mine
    who worked for Norfolk Southern had a friend who was killed in a low speed head-on collision (less than 10 mph) involving two freight trains. Both trains were moving between 5 and 10 mph and at least one unit was totally destroyed.

    [ 24 April 2002, 18:25: Message edited by: Alan Walker ]
  18. c.a.jon

    c.a.jon TrainBoard Member

    Your last statement is correct. With the air dumped, the air couldn't be recovered & then back up. Given the conditions the engineer was faced with, there was probably only time enough to big hole it and bail out of the cab.
  19. BN9900

    BN9900 TrainBoard Member

    Ed, I'm glad you and Sharry are alright..That must have been pretty gruesome. Sherry is ding better I hope. I can't believe that happened. My condolences to the families of the people lost.. :(
  20. Johnny Trains

    Johnny Trains Passed away April 29, 2004 In Memoriam



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