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Motorist Dies as Train Slams Into SUV in Glendale

Fatal Metrolink crash is second this month along accident-prone corridor. Warning signals were working, police say. One commuter is injured.

January 28, 2003|Caitlin Liu | Times Staff Writer

A 52-year-old Burbank man was killed when his sport utility vehicle was struck by a Metrolink train at a Glendale crossing Monday morning.

One passenger on the commuter train, which was carrying about 300 people, was injured. A woman in her late 40s was taken to a nearby hospital after complaining of shoulder pain.

The motorist, Phillip Anderson of Burbank, died instantly after being thrown from his vehicle, police said.

Anderson was driving northeast on Grandview Avenue through an industrial park shortly after 8 a.m. when he rolled onto the tracks despite warning bells, flashing lights and lowered crossing arms, Glendale Police Lt. Don Meredith said.

Witnesses said the driver turned and looked at the train just before the crash, Meredith said. The impact pushed the crumpled vehicle about three-quarters of a mile down the tracks.

The three-car Ventura Line train was carrying commuters from Moorpark, Simi Valley and the San Fernando Valley to Union Station in downtown Los Angeles.

The crash caused delays of up to two hours on Metrolink's Ventura and Antelope Valley lines, which share some tracks, Metrolink spokeswoman Sharon Gavin said.

It was the second fatal crash this month involving Metrolink trains along an 18-mile rail corridor from Sylmar to Glendale that has had the highest accident rate in the agency's six-county network. The corridor runs mostly along San Fernando Road, a busy thoroughfare that cuts through industrial areas, commercial districts and residential neighborhoods.

On Jan. 6, a four-car Metrolink train derailed after barreling into a stake-bed truck at the Buena Vista crossing in Burbank. That accident killed the truck's driver and injured 33 on the train.

Last week, one of the injured passengers died, possibly from complications from the accident, according to Burbank police.

On Thursday, an Amtrak train crashed into an SUV at the Doran Street crossing in Glendale, about a mile south of Grandview. That driver ran from her vehicle seconds before the train hit and no one was injured.

On Monday, as police sealed off nearly a mile of track with yellow crime tape to begin the incident investigation, some who work near the Grandview crossing shook their heads.

Paul Seth, an engineering project manager, said he often sees motorists there racing to beat the train. "I've seen a couple of times the barriers come down and hit the vehicle underneath. I think people don't want to wait. They're impatient."

Others said they find the crossing to be straightforward in road design and well-equipped with devices warning motorists of approaching trains.

"The crossing is very safe," said Rene Cerna, an aerospace parts maker who drives through it every day.

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