Rail worker killed, 2 others injured, when Metrolink hits truck

BASSETT - A rail worker was killed, and two passengers injured, when a Metrolink passenger train smashed into a maintenance truck owned by another railroad in the eastern San Gabriel Valley today.

The eastbound train did not derail when it plowed into a pickup truck marked with Union Pacific logos, and a UP maintenance worker was apparently killed on impact, Metrolink spokesman Francisco Oaxaca said.

``The pickup truck was in pieces,'' Metrolink spokeswoman Angie Starr said from the scene.

Two engineers, 138 passengers and two sheriff's patrol deputies were on board Train 354 as it pulled out of the El Monte Station moments before the crash, Starr said. Two passengers were taken to a hospital with minor injuries, Oaxaca said.

The engineers work for Connex, a company that operates Metrolink trains for the regional rail passenger agency.

Union Pacific spokesman Aaron Hunt said the Omaha-based railroad and L.A.-based Metrolink each own adjacent, parallel tracks at the crash site, and trains from both companies use the other's tracks under common direction from UP dispatchers in Omaha. He did not know who actually owned the tracks being used by Train 354 today.

The Metrolink train was going east on a long straightaway, and had apparently just passed a long flyover bridge that takes one set of the parallel tracks over the other as they cross the San Gabriel River east of El Monte. Trains are known to usually run at about 60 miles an hour as they go under the San Gabriel River (605) Freeway bridge and pass site of the crash at a grade crossing in the unincorporated Los Angeles County community of Bassett.

Hunt said it was not known if UP's maintenance truck was crossing the tracks, or if it was being driven down the tracks using metal train wheels can be hydraulically lowered by many UP maintenance trucks.

The California Highway Patrol said the wreck was at the grade crossing where Temple Avenue crosses the parallel UP and Metrolink tracks, near the intersection of Temple, Valley Boulevard and the northbound 605 exit ramp. The collision was first reported at 9:27 a.m., and the arriving CHP officer reported at least one person was trapped in wreckage.

Oaxaca said Train 354 had left Los Angeles Union Station at 9 a.m. and was running on time, destined for San Bernardino. A locomotive led the train, and another engine was coupled to the rear of it.

Buses were being used to take the delayed passengers to their destinations, Oaxaca said, adding that bus service would continue until the Coroner's Office finished the investigation at the scene.