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Ex-Metrolink spokeswoman who resigned after Chatsworth crash lands new job

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The former Metrolink spokeswoman who resigned in the aftermath of last year's Chatsworth train crash has been hired by the state Public Utilities Commission, the agency announced Friday.

Denise Tyrrell will manage the commission's Los Angeles office and focus on community outreach to consumers, community groups and local elected officials. Tyrrell may also serve as spokesperson for the agency in Southern California.

Tyrrell worked for Metrolink from 2004 until a few days after the Sept. 12 train collision that killed 25 and injured 135. She resigned after being criticized by some Metrolink officials and federal investigators for announcing the day after the crash that a preliminary investigation had found that the Metrolink engineer ran a red light. Investigators have since said the same thing. Tyrrell said the plan to make the announcement was agreed to by Metrolink's chief executive, David Solow. Some board members criticized the admission as premature, although other observers praised Tyrrell's candor.

"I'm relieved to be back at work. It's been a difficult period for me," she said. "There is not a perfect response" in crisis communications, she added. "There's no ideal message that won't rile someone or upset someone."

PUC President Michael R. Peevey noted that most utility users live in Southern California but the agency is based in San Francisco. "We've needed more representation there for some time."

rich.connell@latimes.com

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