California

Train in Oxnard Metrolink Derailment Applied Brakes 8 Seconds Before Impact

NTSB Releases more details about their investigation into the crash

Driver of truck arrested following train derailment.

OXNARD, Calif. - In a Thursday afternoon press briefing, Robert Sumwalt with the National Transportation Safety Board delivered new information from NTSB's preliminary investigation into Tuesday's Oxnard train derailment. The latest information included the following:

  • All traffic signals worked as designed
  • All signage and markings in the area properly indicated there was a railroad crossing present and met federal standards.
  • The train sounded the horn 12 seconds before impact, and applied the emergency brakes 8 seconds before impact.
  • The train was traveling at 64 mph at the time the emergency brakes were applied, and 56 mph at the time of the collision.
  • The forward facing camera on the train shows the accident sequence. In the footage, NTSB says they saw a truck on the railroad tracks with its headlights and emergency brakes on. The driver side door was open, and the driver was nowhere to be seen.

Ventura County District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced Thursday that no charges will be filed at this time against 54-year-old Jose Alejandro Sanchez Ramirez, from Arizona, in connection with the February 24 train derailment.

"The ongoing investigation of this matter is complex and involves numerous local and federal agencies," said Totten. "The District Attorney must await the completion of this investigation before making a formal filing decision."

Totten added that "while charges will not be filed at this time, the arrest of [Ramirez] by the Oxnard Police Department was clearly appropriate and lawful. Oxnard police said they will release Ramirez.

At least 29 people were hospitalized following the Metrolink train derailment in the city of Oxnard while traveling from Ventura County to Los Angeles, Tuesday morning. Several victims remained in the hospital as of Wednesday morning. Two remain in critical condition.

Ventura County Line 102 crashed at about 5:43 a.m. near 5th Street and Rice Avenue in Oxnard. The commuter train struck a truck that burst into flames, according to Oxnard police. Four cars derailed, two of them completely slipped on their sides.

Oxnard Police Department spokesperson Jason Benites said Ramirez was found by a police officer walking along Rice Avenue about two miles from the crash site in a state of distress.

Ramirez was taken to a local hospital for medical evaluation and treatment. Benites said Ramirez was not injured and was taken into custody. He was charged with a felony hit and run and was booked into the Ventura County Jail with a bail set to $150,000.

Benites also said the 54-year-old was driving southbound on Rice Avenue when he made a premature right turn onto the railroad tracks. In a Wednesday afternoon press conference, Sumwalt said Ramirez traveled along the railroad tracks for at least 80 feet west of the grade crossing before coming to a complete stop and abandoning the truck.

Sumwalt said NTSB interviewed Ramirez and determined he has a valid driver's license, issued in 2013, which qualifies him to drive and operate large trucks. Ramirez was scheduled to be in Oxnard for six weeks. Ramirez's son, Daniel Sanchez, stated that the 54-year-old was not familiar with the area. NTSB will be looking into whether Ramirez was using a GPS system.

Oxnard Fire officials confirmed at least 50 injuries related to the crash. One engineer is in critical condition. There are no fatalities. Metrolink spokesperson Scott Johnson said the 58-year-old conductor, with 25 years of experience, was also injured.

"I know there is great concern for the engineer who I know is in critical condition," said Daniel Sanchez in a statement. "We are all praying for his health and hopefully he will return to health soon and our concerns and thoughts are with the victims of the accidents and will be until all of them have returned to health."

Victims were transferred to a number of area hospitals which include the following:

  • Ventura County Medical Center - 3291 Loma Vista Road in Ventura, CA 805-652-6000
  • St. Johns Hospital - 1600 N. Rose Avenue in Oxnard, CA 805-988-2500
  • Los Robles Regional Medical Center - 215 W. Janss Road in Thousand Oaks, CA 805-497-2727
  • St. John's Pleasant Valley - 2309 Antonio Avenue in Camarillo, CA 805-389-5800
  • Community Memorial Hospital - 147 N. Brent Street in Ventura, CA 805-652-5011

An Emergency Medical Services spokesperson said that some passengers suffered back and spinal injuries as a result of the collision.

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NTSB investigators are in the process of interviewing passengers to document the extent of their injuries, how well they were medically treated, and how they evacuated the train after the collision.

Roads are mostly open as of Thursday afternoon. However, the northbound #2 lane of Rice Avenue at 5th Street remains temporarily closed. Clean-up and repair operations are almost completed.

On Thursday, NTSB investigators used 3-D laser scanning on the train cars, Ramirez's truck, and the grade crossing. This technology allows investigators to construct a 3-D representation of whatever they choose to shoot, and will easily allow them to examine data collected from the scene at a later time.

NTSB urges anyone with information or who may have been a witness to the incident, e-mail them at witness@ntsb.gov

We will have the latest updates as they become available.

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Slideshow: Metrolink Train Derails in Oxnard


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