On September 12, a Los Angeles commuter train collided head-on with a Union Pacific freight train. The Metrolink train carrying 222 passengers was headed north in the LA suburb of Chatsworth when it struck a freight train staffed by a 3-person crew. The collision is being described as the deadliest train wreck in the United States since a 1993 Amtrak train derailment that killed 47.
By Sunday, 25 deaths had been reported, but officials fear that number could climb if more bodies are recovered, or if any of the 40 critically injured passengers currently being treated in area hospitals take a turn for the worse.
Although the recovery effort is nearing completion, rescuers reported that the overturned position of the trained slowed the process considerably, making it much more difficult than usual to find injured or deceased passengers and to move them to safety. Efforts to recover the train’s data recorders are still underway.
While an official statement on the cause of the collision has not yet been released, Metrolink representatives are claiming that human error played a factor in the collision. In the local LA media, unsubstantiated reports that the Metrolink engineer was engaged in a text messaging exchange in the moments before the crash have emerged.
Whatever the cause of the distraction, the circumstances of the wreck suggest that something had seriously impeded the engineer’s ability to safely operate the train. Three separate warnings that a head-on crash was imminent were reportedly disregarded.
Because human error appears to have been a major contributing factor in the collision, it is likely that a number of wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits will be filed on behalf of injured passengers and surviving family members in the weeks and months to come.
If you or a family member has been affected by the Metrolink tragedy, reach out and connect with our team of compassionate, experienced personal injury attorneys. Contact the California personal attorneys at The Heller Law Firm for a free consultation, or call us direct at 866-461-5791. You will hear from us either the same day or within 24 hours.