Metrolink Train Strikes a Motorhome on Tracks in Santa Fe Springs

Passengers say a frightening chain of events during the morning commute began with a strong jolt and the strong odor of smoke

metrolink-train-crash-november-22-2019
LASD/NBCLA

A motorhome on railroad tracks in southeast Los Angeles County burst into flames early Friday after it was struck by a Metrolink train, frightening passengers during the early morning commute.

Orange County Line 681 bound for Los Angeles was between Buena Park and Norwalk when it slammed into the motorhome. No injuries were reported, but passengers were alarmed by a strong jolt and the odor of smoke. 

"It was pretty obvious we hit something," a passenger said. "It became clear... this was a vehicle or object or something very heavy."

It wasn't immediately known how fast the train and its five car were moving, but a spokesman said the engineer tried to stop before striking the vehicle. The collision occurred at a gated crossing with flashing lights.

"Our engineer went into emergency stop procedures but unfortunately was unable to stop in time," agency spokesman Scott Johnson said.

Firefighters extinguished flames. The fire destroyed the motorhome and damaged the front of the train.

A freight train that stopped next to the Metrolink train also as damaged by fire. The freight train was unable to stop in time and ran over some of the crash debris, according to Lena Kent, spokeswoman for BNSF, which maintains tracks in the area. 

It wasn't clear if the RV driver tried to drive around the gates.

Witnesses told police that the motor home apparently stalled on the tracks, and four people were seen running away, Whittier police Officer Hugo Figueroa said. Officers went to the home of the registered owner, and the investigation was continuing, Figueroa said.

The burned wreckage was hauled away on a flatbed truck.

Passengers boarded buses in Fullerton for all stops into Los Angeles. OCTA buses were running from Buena Park.

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