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Missed Turn Causes Train-Truck Collision

February 2, 2000

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Seven people were hurt and a $1.5 million oversize load was destroyed last week near Los Angeles when a truck driver missed his turn and bottomed out on railroad tracks, where the rig was hit by a commuter train.

The crash happened early Friday morning in Glendale, CA. The truck, operated by Mercury Transportation of Houston and escorted by California Highway Patrol vehicles, continued straight on over the tracks instead of making the left turn it was supposed to. CHP officers alerted the caravan to the mistake and told the trucker to retrace his steps. When he crossed back over the tracks, the 110,000-pound, 19-foot-high carbon dioxide condensing unit got stuck. The warning gates came down, and less than a minute later, the Metrolink train crashed into the truck. The driver, who had gotten out of the cab to try to raise the trailer, was not injured. Seven people on the train received minor injuries.
In a preliminary investigation, officials said that the ultimate responsibility for the accident lies with the driver, and not with the pilot vehicle or the CHP officers contracted to escort them.
Although the CHP was hired to escort the truck, its responsibility was to make sure that other motorists are not hurt or damaged by the truck, according to the patrol. It's the pilot vehicle and the truck driver's responsibility to get there safely, a CHP spokesman told the Los Angeles Times.
Officials are also investigating the possible lack of an oversized permit for the load to travel through Glendale.

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