The driver of a pickup that was stopped on railroad tracks in Oxnard before it was struck by a Metrolink train, causing the train to derail, was charged Monday with vehicular manslaughter.
Jose Alejandro Sanchez-Ramirez faces one misdemeanor count in the Feb. 24, 2015, crash that left one person dead and 34 injured, Ventura County Dist. Atty. Gregory Totten said in a statement.
Sanchez-Ramirez was driving southbound on Rice Avenue near 5th Street about 5:30 a.m. when he turned right onto the railroad tracks and stopped, prosecutors said.
“Mr. Sanchez-Ramirez did not notify authorities of his predicament prior to the collision and derailment,” according to the statement from the district attorney’s office.
A preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board released last March found that the driver had intended to turn onto East 5th Street but mistakenly veered onto the tracks. Since the train hadn’t yet approached, the grade crossing’s warning system was not activated, the report said.
At some point after it became stuck, Sanchez-Ramirez got out of the truck. As the train approached the vehicle, the driver’s-side door was open and the headlights and hazard lights were turned on, the report said.
Four of the train’s cars derailed; three of them overturned.
After the crash, police said that they found Sanchez-Ramirez walking more than a mile from the crash site, and that he was visibly disoriented. 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 outcome of investigations into the crash.
The National Transportation Safety Board has not yet released its final report on the crash.
Sanchez-Ramirez could not immediately be reached Monday for comment. His attorney previously said that his client, a resident of Yuma, Ariz., was in the area for work and thought he was turning onto a street.
If convicted of the charge, Sanchez-Ramirez faces up to one year in county jail. He’s scheduled to be arraigned March 23.
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Times staff writer Veronica Rocha contributed to this report.