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Commuter train in California hits truck and derails, injuring 28

The Metrolink passenger train that derailed on Tuesday  morning. (Mark J. Terrill/AP)
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A commuter train in southern California derailed after hitting a truck early Tuesday morning, sending dozens of people to the hospital. No one was killed, authorities said.

The Ventura County Fire Department initially said that the driver of the truck fled the scene and was later arrested, but they later amended that to say the driver was not under arrest.

Capt. Mike Lindbery, a spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department, said that 28 people were transported to area hospitals, while 23 other people were not injured. There were 50 passengers on the train, none of whom had to be extricated when the three rail cars derailed. The crash occurred in Oxnard, Calif., about 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

The driver of the truck, a 54-year-old man who was not identified, was one of the people transported to the hospital for treatment.

A commuter train in southern California smashed into a truck during the morning rush hour, injuring dozens of people. (Video: Reuters)

The National Transportation Safety Board has launched a team of investigators to the scene of the accident, the second time this month that it has responded to a crash involving a commuter train hitting a vehicle on the tracks.

Earlier this month, a Metro-North train in New York crashed into an SUV that had stopped at a track crossing; six people were killed, including the SUV’s driver.

The Metrolink train was heading from Ventura County and to Union Station in Los Angeles when it struck the vehicle at around 5:45 a.m., about 20 minutes after its scheduled departure from East Ventura. It was supposed to get to Union Station a little less than 90 minutes later.

The accident was at a busy intersection where cars are able to travel over the train tracks. Lindbery said that the lights at the intersection were still flashing in the hours after the crash, indicating that drivers should have stopped for an oncoming train before crossing the tracks. “Anytime the vehicle moves onto the tracks with the lights on it’s considered a trespassing,” he said.

Police told the Los Angeles Times that the crash appeared to have been an accident, saying the driver, who initially fled, was being cooperative.

“I know we had a couple that were in what we call “triage immediate,” Lindbery said in a phone interview. “Those were the ones first out on the way to the hospital.”

There are a dozen stations on Metrolink’s Ventura County Line, which serves about 3,600 riders a day.

Crucially, the locomotive’s fuel tanks — which held 1,700 gallons of fuel — remained intact, according to police.

The accident in California comes several years after the last major crash involving Metrolink, a regional commuter rail system that was created in 1992.

In 2008, a Metrolink train crashed into a freight train in Chatsworth, killing 25 people and injuring 135 others. Investigators from the NTSB later determined that the 2008 crash was caused by the Metrolink engineer failing to respond to a red signal because he was using his phone to send text messages.

Another accident involving a Metrolink train hitting a vehicle on the tracks occurred in 2005. That crash killed 11 people and injured more than 170 others.

[This post has been updated multiple times.]