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METROLINK COLLISION: PORTRAITS OF LOSS / ALAN BUCKLEY

Diverse lives, one tragic link

A popular teacher, a much-admired boss, an 'awesome' mother and more. . . . In coming days, The Times will continue to profile the victims of the crash.

September 14, 2008|Kate Linthicum

A lifelong fan of trains

Alan Buckley lived his whole life with trains.

The 59-year-old Simi Valley man grew up around them -- his father worked for Southern Pacific Railroad -- and he grew older with them.

Every day for more than 20 years, Buckley woke up at 4 a.m. to take the Metrolink train to Burbank, where he worked as a machine mechanic for the city. And every afternoon he rode it back home, always sitting in the first car.

"He hated to drive and he loved trains," Patricia Buckley, his wife of 32 years, said Saturday. "He said that when he died, he wanted to have his ashes thrown off the back of a train."

On Friday, "Buck," as he was known to friends, was sitting in the first car of Metrolink train 111 when it collided head-on with a Union Pacific freight train. He died at the scene, his wife said. The family found out about his death at 4 a.m. Saturday, putting a sad end to a frantic, nearly 12-hour search.

Patricia Buckley spent the day trying to get over the loss of the man she called her "rock." Instead, she just kept thinking about what kind of person he had been.

He was an "everyday guy," she said, a strong, steady man who would do anything for his family. "He didn't want any frills and didn't like much attention," she said. "He didn't do anything heroic. He just loved his family."

She said they first met as students at Burbank High School, started dating at 16 and were married at 19. They had two children and six grandchildren, whom Buck doted on.

Patricia says she is glad Buck died doing something he loved. "It's kind of ironic," she said. "He died on a train."

-- Kate Linthicum

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