Tuesday, November 16, 1993

Blue Line Kills 2 Year Old, 18 Year Old & Critically Injures 3 Children

2 Killed, 5 Hurt When Blue Line Train Hits Auto Accident
Crash claims lives of a young child and the driver, who apparently went around lowered crossing gates. Other victims are pried from wreckage.

Los Angeles Times
By Nieson Himmel & Jean Merl
November 17, 1993

Two people died and at least seven others were injured Tuesday night when a Blue Line train struck a car that apparently had driven around lowered crossing gates in Willowbrook, authorities said.

The crash occurred just before 9 p.m. near Willowbrook Avenue and 124th Street, a county Fire Department official said.

Killed were an 18-year-old woman, who was driving the car, and a child believed to be between 2 and 3. The five others in the car-three children and two adults-were critically injured. All had to be pried from the wreckage. The driver died at the scene and the child at a hospital, the California Highway Patrol said.

At least one person on the train complained of injuries, the CHP said. It could not be immediately determined whether they were serious.

Eyewitness Cesar Martinez said he heard the train "honk twice real loud. Then I saw this car wheeling around the gate, and the train hit it right in the middle. The car spun around.

"I rushed over and it looked like a massacre. I grabbed a child out of the car and a (deputy) handed me another."

Greg Davy, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the Blue Line, said the northbound commuter train was traveling at 30 m.p.h. when the crash occurred. It rolled another 200 feet down the track before the operator could bring the 92,000-pound train to a stop.

Since it began operating in July, 1990, the Blue Line has been plagued with accidents, prompting authorities to step up security and to mount a campaign to keep vehicles from driving around crossing gates.

Tuesday night's collision raised the number of fatalities in Blue Line accidents to 16.

The previous fatal accident also was in Willowbrook. In May, two men in a stolen car drove onto the tracks in the path of an oncoming train and were killed.