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2 Killed, 2 Injured in Car Hit by Train

Six Blue Line passengers also are hurt as a motorist tries to turn across the tracks.

August 21, 2006|Nancy Cleeland | Times Staff Writer

A man and his sister were killed and his 7-year-old son was critically injured Sunday morning when the man turned their car in front of a Blue Line train near downtown Los Angeles and the vehicle was dragged half a block along the tracks, police said.

The siblings' grandmother, 68, who was in the back seat, was being treated at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center for chest pains, said Det. Josephine Mapson of the Los Angeles Police Department.

The driver was identified as Cesar Herrera, 27, of Los Angeles. His sister, Maria A. Herrera, was 17. Police did not identify the survivors.

Six of the 92 passengers on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority train were treated for minor injuries and released, Mapson said.

Both the car and the train, which runs at street level along the center of Washington Boulevard, were traveling east. The train's operator told police that he saw a maroon Mazda stopped in the left-turn lane ahead of him at the intersection of Maple Avenue. Just as the train was about to pass, the traffic light turned green for through traffic but the left-turn arrow remained red.

Nevertheless, the Mazda driver turned left in front of the train, and the car was struck and pushed 162 feet east.

Mapson said the driver may have misread the traffic signal, which also has a box with flashing lights indicating an approaching train.

Los Angeles Fire Department personnel cut away the roof of the smashed car to remove the boy and his great-grandmother.

"I've been here 4 1/2 years and I've lost count of the number of accidents I've seen with this train," said fire Battalion Chief Ray Gomez.

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