7 hurt when Gold Line train hits truck at Highland Park crossing

Times Staff Writers

A Gold Line light-rail train carrying dozens of people hit a pickup during rush hour Tuesday morning in Highland Park, injuring seven people, authorities said.

The crash occurred shortly before 8 a.m. at a crossing at Avenue 55 and Marmion Way.

The 35-year-old driver of the pickup truck was taken to Huntington Hospital in Pasadena with unspecified injuries, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lt. Suzan Young said.

The driver was awake and alert but was considered in critical condition because of the potential for internal injuries, a Fire Department official said.

The truck was severely damaged.

Six people on the train -- including the operator and a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy providing security on the train -- were being treated for minor neck and back injuries, Young said.


Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials said the southbound train was carrying as many as 60 people.

A witness told investigators the pickup driver tried to beat the train, which was passing through a crossing that has lights and bells but no gates, MTA spokesman Jose Ubaldo said.

“Either he disregarded the signals -- and there are plenty going along that Gold Line, so he had to disregard it -- or he wasn’t paying attention,” said d’Lisa Davies, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles City Fire Department.

She said she did not know whether all the signals were working Tuesday morning.

Among the injured passengers was a 52-year-old woman who jumped off the train after the crash and broke one of her legs.

MTA officials said trains usually travel 15 mph to 20 mph through the area, a narrow stretch of track that is blocks from the Highland Park station.

The 14-mile Gold Line, which opened in 2003, connects Pasadena and Union Station in downtown Los Angeles.

About 20,000 people travel the route daily. Each car holds up to 144 passengers and costs $2.36 million.

Shuttle buses took passengers to stations south and north of the accident.

Heavy equipment was brought in to move the train.