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Crash probe goes on

Ryan Carter

Plans to raise the railroad tracks at the intersection of Buena

Vista Street and San Fernando Boulevard won’t become reality soon

enough for Jacek W. Wysocki.


Wysocki, 63, was killed Monday morning when a MetroLink train

headed south to the Burbank station broadsided his flatbed truck. The

train was traveling between 50 and 70 mph when it hit the truck at

the intersection of San Fernando Boulevard and Buena Vista Street,


officials said.

Investigators are focusing on how Wysocki ended up on the tracks.

His family and friends remain bewildered.

“He was so meticulous,” said Walter Zach, a neighbor and friend of

Wysocki who came to the scene with his wife, Tina, and son Tuesday to

console Wysocki’s family. “He always examined the wheels of his

truck, and always examined the tires. The guy was not some

fresh-off-the-truck rookie who didn’t know what he was doing. He


didn’t miss a thing.”

Wysocki’s family gathered around a small memorial of flowers

inside the investigation area Tuesday afternoon. They did not respond

to a request for comment.

Two rail cars from the four-car train jumped the track Monday

after colliding with Wysocki’s truck. Wysocki was killed instantly,

and 32 of the train’s 58 passengers were injured, police said. Four

of the 32 were injured seriously, though no one else has died,


according to a MetroLink spokes- woman. The severed truck cab was

dragged by the train about 1,000 feet beyond the impact point, and

burned for several minutes after the collision. Authorities from

the Burbank Police Department and the National Transportation Safety

Board were investigating the crash Tuesday, as well as reviewing

safety at the crossing.

Wysocki apparently was trying to make a left turn onto Buena Vista

Street from San Fernando Boulevard, Burbank Traffic Det. Paul

Orlowski said. He stopped at the red light, but turned as the

four-way signals flashed, bells rang and crossing arms lowered,

witnesses said.

“He cut across and behind the first downed barricade [arm]. He got

inside of the barricades directly in the path of the train and was

broadsided,” Orlowski said.

Orlowski said investigators are not sure if Wysocki was confused

or trying to get around the arms to beat the train.

Officials are evaluating the scene to see if improvements need to

be made to the intersection. But according to city traffic engineer

Ken Johnson, the four-way-flashing signal system that connects

traffic lights with crossing arms was operating properly. The area

was widened last year and a new warning system with longer crossing

arms was installed because of increased traffic due to the opening of

the Empire Center.

As part of a previously planned Caltrans project designed to ease

congestion, the train tracks at that intersection will be raised in

2004. They will go above Buena Vista Street, Johnson said.

MetroLink trains have collided with vehicles 127 times in the system’s 10-year history, and each time, a vehicle was illegally on

the track, Metrolink spokeswoman Sharon Gavin said.

Local police said drivers routinely try to cross this and the

other so-called “at-grade” crossing in the city, where the tracks and

the street are on the same level. Failure to stop for the signals and

even staying on the tracks are frequent violations, police said.

“We cite people a lot at this intersection,” Officer Timothy

Dyrness said of the crash site.