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Flashing red lights blamed for train wreck

Darleene Barrientos

Flashing red lights confused a driver and led to the Jan. 6 train

wreck in which several people were injured and two people were

killed, according to a report released Tuesday by the National


Transportation Safety Board.

The crash at a Metrolink railroad crossing near North Buena Vista

Street and San Fernando Boulevard could have been avoided if the red

arrow -- signaling that drivers were allowed to turn left into the


intersection if it was safe -- was not flashing, according to the


Jacek Wysocki, 63, reportedly drove his truck around the crossing

arms that day and into the path of an oncoming Metrolink train. The

train and truck collided, derailing the train, killing Wysocki and

injuring dozens of other people. A train passenger, 76-year-old Grace

Midgely Kirkness of Newhall, died two weeks later.

An autopsy revealed Wysocki had an undetermined amount of alcohol


in his body at the time of the accident, according to the report.

The report made several recommendations, including that the city

install a raised median at the North San Fernando Boulevard-North

Buena Vista Street crossing.

Burbank city officials said they have asked for a copy of the

report and will consider the recommendation, Burbank Asst. City Atty.

Carol Humiston said.

The main recommend- ation of the report directed Caltrans to


prohibit the flashing-red option for traffic signals when a train is


“We’re going to take the recommendation under advisement,” said

Dennis Trujillo, Caltrans deputy director of external affairs. “But

what really needs to be recognized is that no one should ever go

under or around a railroad crossing.

“The report said the [Wysocki] drove around the crossing gate and

was fatally struck. Those crossing arms are there for a reason.”