Investigators Discuss Amtrak Crash

Monday, November 6th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MOORPARK, Calif. (AP) — The engineer of an Amtrak train which derailed after hitting a truck, killing one person and injuring 30 others, told investigators he tried to warn the driver but couldn't stop in time.

``He saw the truck driving at a slow speed, honked his horn and applied the emergency brake, but couldn't avoid striking it,'' said Officer David Webb of the California Highway Patrol, which is investigating Saturday's crash.

The driver of the tree-trimming truck, 29-year-old Sergio Mendoza, died at the scene. His vehicle, filled with wood chips, was cut in half and its bright orange trailer flung several yards.

A passenger in the truck, Julio Corona, 23, remained in critical condition Sunday after being airlifted to Los Robles Regional Medical Center in Thousand Oaks with severe head injuries.

``We expect him to survive but we're unclear as to what his recovery will be,'' said hospital spokeswoman Kris Carraway-Bowman.

Twenty-eight of the 88 people aboard the train sustained broken bones, cuts and bruises, and an engineer was treated for head and shoulder injuries, but none remained hospitalized on Sunday. Some of the passengers in the derailed cars had scrambled out of windows and roof hatches to escape.

The train struck the truck at a crossing on private property three miles west of Moorpark, which is about 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles. There are no mechanized gates at the crossing.

Ventura County Fire Department spokeswoman Sandi Wells said it was the fifth fatal crash in three years in the area.

Emergency crews were working Sunday to clear the wreckage, and train service was expected to be restored by Monday morning. The track is part of Amtrak's second-busiest route.


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