A preliminary federal report on the Oxnard train derailment confirms details on how a truck became lodged on the tracks just moments before last month's fatal crash.
The National Transportation Safety Board report released Thursday says the truck driver intended to turn right on East 5th Street but instead entered the railroad right-of-way and turned onto the track. Train No. 102 hadn’t yet approached, so the grade crossing’s warning system was not activated.
The driver, Jose Sanchez-Ramirez, 54, traveled on the railroad right-of-way for about 80 feet west of South Rice Avenue and was partially on the railroad tracks when it became lodged. The driver’s side door was open and the Ford F-450 pickup’s headlights and hazard lights were on as the train approached on the morning of Feb. 24.
Operating the train was a student engineer, who began to sound the horn about a quarter-mile west of the crossing and set the emergency brakes, according to the report. Meanwhile, the engineer was monitoring.
Eight seconds later, the train collided with the truck and its utility trailer. The trailer was partially consumed by fire.
The train’s four cars were derailed, three of which overturned.
Twenty-eight people were taken to hospitals with minor to critical injuries. The engineer, Glenn Steele, 62, died seven days later as a result of injuries from the crash.
The NTSB says a 1998 Toyota Camry, which stopped at the crossing before the crash, was struck by debris. The driver was not injured.
Sanchez-Ramirez, of Yuma, Ariz., was in the area for work and thought he was turning onto 5th Street, his attorney said.
After the crash, police said they found him walking and apparently disoriented more than a mile from the scene. He was arrested on suspicion of felony hit-and-run involving multiple injuries but was later released after prosecutors declined to file charges, pending the conclusion of investigations.
NTSB investigators have said a final report with more details about the crash could take up to a year to complete.
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