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THE METROLINK CRASH

Victim Had Been Rider Since Line Opened

Death: Second man killed is identified as a computer engineer from Riverside: 'He loved riding that train,' Lawrence Sorensen's brother says.

April 25, 2002|EVAN HALPER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Lawrence Sorensen loved NASCAR racing. But he wasn't big on driving, especially when it meant creeping along the clogged Riverside County freeways during rush hour.

So the 48-year-old Riverside resident had taken Metrolink to his job in Santa Ana since the day the commuter train service started in 1995. On Tuesday, he died on that routine trip after Metrolink Train 809 was hit head on by a mile-long freight train in Placentia.

"He loved riding that train," said Todd Sorensen, his brother. "He'd been taking it every day as long as there was a train. It was very relaxing for him."

The other victim, identified Tuesday, was Robert Kube, 59, of Moreno Valley.

Sorensen, who never married, lived alone in a house on Haven View Drive, spending much of his free time with family that lives in the area. He was born in Anaheim and spent a few years in the Air Force in the late 1970s, where he learned computer engineering.

At his job with a consulting company in Santa Ana, he worked on software for government clients. The programs he helped create allowed the courts to operate more smoothly and the Department of Motor Vehicles to get better organized.

Sorensen loved children--especially those who had an interest in Civil War history. A war buff who collected books and magazines covering details of the battles, Sorensen loved to pass on his knowledge of American history. On the NASCAR track, Sorensen's hero was the late Dale Earnhardt. "He was more into NASCAR than anything," his brother said.

Downtime was spent fishing with his parents near Idyllwild. They would reel in their catch from the shore or sometimes take a creaky rowboat out onto the lake.

"They went up there quite often," Todd Sorensen said.

And the laid-back computer engineer loved his house. He was finally able to buy a home in 1997 after saving for a decade while living in a mobile home in Mira Loma. His brother, who lives about 30 minutes away in Running Springs, had helped him install a sprinkler system a few days before the accident.

"He loved that little home," Todd Sorensen said. "He was always working on it, and he was very proud of it."

Like so many other people in the Inland Empire, Sorensen was more than willing to spend three hours commuting every day so that he could own his own home.

"It was worth it for him," his brother said.

Sorensen had been taking care of his parents' dog while his mother and father were on a cruise in Hawaii, celebrating their 50th anniversary.

Todd Sorensen saw the accident on the news and called his brother's home several times Tuesday night, but there was no answer. "It was unusual for him not to be home, since he was taking care of the dog," Todd said, adding that the police reached his parents first, who then called the rest of the family from the cruise ship. "It is truly tragic."

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