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Metro crash update: Metro looking into cause of crash; train driver recovering

Cars from Metro's Expo Line derailed from a collision with an automobile along Exposition Boulevard near Vermont Avenue Saturday morning, March 28, 2015.
Cars from Metro's Expo Line derailed from a collision with an automobile along Exposition Boulevard near Vermont Avenue Saturday morning, March 28, 2015.
Courtesy of LA Metro

Los Angeles firefighters say nearly two dozen people suffered injuries, mostly minor, when a commuter train struck a car near downtown Los Angeles and partially derailed. Metro says it's reviewing the incident. 

Update 2:21 p.m.: Metro looking into cause of crash; train driver recovering

Metro officials say they're reviewing footage and looking into the circumstances that caused an Expo Line train and Honda to collide just outside of the University of Southern California Saturday. 

Kenneth Goss, the Metro conductor at the head of the train, is recovering at home with his family, according to a Metro spokesman. Goss is a 29-year veteran of the department in his mid-50s.

"He was shaken up a little bit, but he was back home," Metro's Jose Ubaldo said. 

Ubaldo said the 31-year-old driver of the car was attempting to make a left turn in front of the train onto USC Watt Way when he was hit. He was taken to a local hospital with serious injuries, according to an LAPD statement.

There was no update Sunday on his condition, an LAPD spokesperson said.

The turnoff is governed by a traffic light. Ubaldo said it's not clear whether the driver made an illegal turn or the Metro train passed through a red light. 

"We're investigating the videos to see if the signals were working properly," Ubaldo said. "If he ran the red light or we ran the red light, we don't know."

The Los Angeles Police Department is doing its own investigation on the incident as well. 

The USC's Daily Trojan newspaper noted Sunday that one of its engineering professors had warned that the design was "an accident waiting to happen" when the line opened in 2012. 

The Trojan reports:

USC Civil Engineering Professor Najmedin Meshkati worked pro bono prior to the Expo Line’s opening to study its potential safety hazards. Since its opening, he has warned that the line is heavily prone to accidents, and thus commands further attention from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates train crossings.

“I was sad and depressed — like with any accident — but unfortunately I am not surprised,” Meshkati said regarding Saturday’s collision. “If we don’t take decisive action [to prevent future accidents], we will have another one and another one and another one.”

You can see a video of Meshkati's critique on USC's Annenberg TV News website

— KPCC

Update 9:21 a.m.:  21 hurt after commuter train hits car, partially derails

Fire Department spokesman Shawn Lenske says 20 people on the train were hurt in Saturday's crash. He says all but one of the injuries was minor. The train operator was seriously hurt.

One person in the car was seriously injured and had to be cut out of the vehicle.

Lenske says the first two of the train's four cars slightly derailed, but remained upright.

Further details on the extent of the injuries or the cause of the crash were not immediately available.

Officials with Los Angeles Metro, which operates the train, did not immediately return a call for comment.

The crash happened just before 11 a.m. near the University of Southern California campus, south of downtown.

— AP

Correction: An earlier version of this post mistakenly said the student injured in Saturday's crash was 21 years-old, based on an LAPD press release. Since then, the school has identified 31-year-old Jacob Fadley as the victim.