Truck Driver Found 1.6 Miles From Metrolink Crash

Jose Alejandro Sanchez-Ramirez charged with felony hit-and-run
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 25, 2015 1:06 AM CST
Truck Driver Charged in Metrolink Crash
This image from video provided by KABC-TV shows the wreckage of a Metrolink commuter train after it crashed into a truck and derailed early on Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015, in Oxnard, Calif.   (AP Photo/KABC-TV)

The driver whose truck was hit by an LA-bound Metrolink train yesterday, injuring around 30 people, was arrested and charged with felony hit-and-run after being found on foot more than a mile away. Oxnard police Assistant Chief Jason Benites says Jose Alejandro Sanchez-Ramirez, 54, was "disoriented," "unsettled," and "very distressed" when officers caught up with him around 45 minutes after the crash, KTLA reports. Police say Sanchez-Ramirez, who was taken to the hospital for observation and is cooperating with the investigation, was trying to turn his pickup truck onto a street before the crash at 5:40am but pulled onto the tracks instead and became stuck, the Los Angeles Times reports. It's not clear how long the truck, which was pulling a trailer with tools in it, was stuck on the tracks.

"It's not his fault," the driver's wife tells the Times. She says he got out of the truck when he couldn't restart the engine and saw the train approaching. Investigators are trying to determine whether Sanchez-Ramirez was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, according to KTLA. And while Benites notes that "given the circumstances, it’s unusual that a person would go 1.6 miles away from an accident," he said "it’s safe to say it was not a deliberate act." Four of the 30 people hospitalized after the accident are in critical condition, including the train's engineer, who suffered injuries to his lungs and heart, but Metrolink officials say the accident would have been much worse if the system hadn't invested in passenger cars designed to absorb impact, the AP reports. (More Metrolink stories.)

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