LA commuter train hits car, partially derails; 21 hurt

Updated: 2015-03-29 09:27


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LA commuter train hits car, partially derails; 21 hurt

A Los Angeles commuter train that struck a vehicle on the tracks near the University of Southern California campus, is seen in this picture in Los Angeles, California, March 28, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]

LOS ANGELES - A commuter train slammed into a car at a crossing in front of the University of Southern California on Saturday, seriously injuring the driver and the train's operator. Nineteen passengers on the train suffered lesser injuries.

The train was heading east toward downtown shortly before 11 am when authorities said it appeared the car's driver didn't see it and tried to make a left turn across the tracks from a major thoroughfare.

The car, a silver Hyundai, was all but demolished. The first two of the train's four cars slightly derailed, but they remained upright.

"We had to use the Jaws of Life to extricate the driver, and we transported him to a local hospital. He was in extremely critical condition," fire Capt. Daniel Curry said at the scene.

The train's operator was also badly hurt.

Nineteen passengers on the train suffered lesser injuries, mainly cuts and bruises. "They were all able to walk off the train," Curry said.

Eight were taken to hospitals, and the others were released.

The cause of the crash was under investigation. But Metro supervisor Diljiat Sandhu said it appeared that the car's driver was attempting to turn left at a grade crossing and didn't see the approaching train.

The crash occurred in an area where Metro trains travel down the middle of Los Angeles' Exposition Boulevard, with cars traveling east or west on either side.

On the north side of the boulevard is the USC campus, and on the south side is an entrance to Los Angeles' Museum of Natural History.

Police shut down several blocks of Exposition Boulevard while Metro worked to remove the train.

Service through the immediate area was suspended, and Sandhu said the transit agency was providing shuttle buses to get riders around the wreck.

Metro spokesman Jose Ubaldo said the agency hoped to have service restored by Saturday evening.

An estimated 90,000 people were expected to attend a sold-out soccer game at the nearby Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Saturday night. Ubaldo said that if service wasn't restored in time to get riders there, shuttle buses would transport them from stations on either side of the venue.