A University of Southern California film student was hospitalized in "grave" condition after the car he was riding in was crushed by a Metro train near the school’s campus Saturday, officials said. Nine people aboard the commuter train were also taken to hospitals after the crash, including the train operator.
The collision was reported just before 11 a.m. near the intersection of Exposition Boulevard and Vermont Avenue, officials with the Los Angeles Fire Department said.
Investigators say the 31-year-old driver, who has not been identified, may have made an "improper turn" to his left, crossed the tracks and collided with the train, said Sgt. Michael Verlich of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
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The car became wedged between the train and a pole, causing the train to come off the tracks and trapping the driver inside the mangled vehicle.
"It was just like a big, loud crash of metal," said USC freshman Johnny Stevens, who saw the aftermath from his dorm room. "It was huge so we knew it wasn't just a car crash. We figured something big happened, so we looked out our window and we saw half of a car smashed into the rail."
In all, 21 people received medical attention, LAFD Assistant Chief Don Frazeur said.
The driver, who is also a military veteran, was taken to the hospital in "grave" condition after being rescued from the crumpled Hyundai Sonata.
The train operator, identified as Kenneth Goss, was recovering at home with his family after being treated at the hospital for injuries that were described as "serious." He has worked for Metro for 29 years, said Metro spokesman Jose Ubaldo.
Eight others were taken to the hospital to be treated for minor injuries. Several others were treated at the scene.
LAFD officials initially said two cars had been involved in the crash with the train, but later changed that number to one.
About 100 passengers were on the train at the time of the wreck, Ubaldo said.
The crash interrupted additional Metro train service for a crowd of 80,000 at the Mexico versus Ecuador soccer match at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Metro officials warned commuters to expect major delays on the Expo Line. Bus shuttles were requested between Jefferson Boulevard and Vermont Avenue. The line was expected to reopen by midnight, said Metro spokesman Jose Ubaldo.
NBC4's Irene Moore contributed to this report.