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Portraits of loss: Michael Hammersley

Tim Hammersley knew what time his brother Michael commuted home to Simi Valley every day on Metrolink. He had picked him up before.

So when Tim heard about the train crash, he called his brother’s cellphone. No answer. Then he called Northridge and Holy Cross hospitals. Nothing. He tried the Metrolink emergency number, but hung up after waiting on hold for 15 minutes.


FOR THE RECORDA previous version of this story spelled his name Hammersly.


Finally, he went to the family reunification center set up at Chatsworth High School to await word. Family reunions were few and far between.

Names of the injured trickled in from various hospitals, but no announcements concerning Mike. By midnight, still no word.

It wasn’t until 2 p.m. Saturday that the coroner called, Tim said. Mike, 45, was among the dead. He had been seated in the Metrolink train’s first car, behind the engine.

Tim Hammersley said his brother, a mail clerk at Los Angeles City Hall, was unmarried but loved children.

“He loved to play with my daughters,” Tim said. “He’d take them outside and swing them around, play with toys.”

Mike had narrowly missed being in the 2005 Metrolink crash in which 11 people were killed, Tim said. He would have been on the train but was working a night shift that day, Tim said.

In addition to Tim, a heavy equipment operator for the city of Los Angeles, Mike Hammersley is survived by his brother Thomas, who works as a mechanic for the L.A. Fire Department; brother Robert, who is in the military and leaves for Kuwait this week; and a sister who is a nurse at Stanford.

-- Jason Felch


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