FONTANA, Calif. (AP) – A Southern California surgical team on Friday amputated the arm of a freight train engineer to free him from the wreckage of a locomotive that rear-ended a slow moving freighter on tracks 50 miles east of Los Angeles.
Two people on the train, including the engineer, who is in critical condition, were hospitalized at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center.
The westbound Union Pacific train struck a slower-moving train in the Fontana at about 11:55 p.m. Thursday, San Bernardino County fire spokesman Maurice Moore said. Several cars derailed and the locomotive wound up on top of a freight car. The slower freight train was hauling I-beams that pierced the locomotive of the faster train, trapping the engineer, Moore said.
Firefighters were unable to get the trapped engineer out of the wrecked Union Pacific locomotive and a surgical team was called in to amputate his arm, Moore said. The engineer is expected to survive.
The other hospitalized railroad worker had moderate injuries.
The speed of the trains wasn’t known. Calls to Union Pacific spokesman Aaron Hunt weren’t immediately returned.
The wreck alongside eastbound lanes of Interstate 10 at Cherry Avenue created a traffic crush for more than four hours.
Emergency vehicles used the freeway to access the wreckage and it was feared hazardous materials might be leaking from a rail tanker, Moore said. It was later determined there were no dangerous materials in the wreckage.
There is more to this story that I have not seen mentioned in the news reports about this horrible tragedy. There is a huge problem on the 15 Freeway from the 210 Pasadena Freeway, down through the 60 Los Angeles Freeway.
Cal-Trans, the freeway maintenance and construction agency run by the state of California, has been running a number of projects on the 15 freeway for more than a year now. There have been a lot of accidents because of their construction.
I was in a small accident a couple of weeks ago because of the construction, when a Cal-Trans dump truck came off of the center divider and went across all four traffic lanes causing me to swerve to avoid the debris that was falling off of the back of his truck. I ran over a traffic cone and a piece of concrete form lumber. This flattened two of my tires and ruined the front bumper of the car.
The traffic lanes change almost daily, being moved from one side of the freeway to the other, and you never know what to expect one day to the next. I work in Commerce CA. and driving down the 15 to get to the 60 is a crap shoot. One day things will be fine, the next day there are accidents everywhere.
I wonder what was going on that caused this horrible accident that took the lives of an entire family. The Jurupa (pronounced Ha-roo-pa) exit is just north of the 60 westbound transition road and right in the middle of their construction zone and right where my little accident occurred.
Driving this stretch of freeway is incredibly dangerous because of the way Cal-Trans has been managing construction on both sides of the freeway. Just yesterday on my way to work in the same area of this accident I was almost involved in an accident.
Our heartfelt sympathies go out to the Villalpando Family in this sad time. JD