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Ten Killed as Commuter Trains Crash in L.A. Suburb
Police Say Suicidal Man Left SUV on Tracks

GLENDALE, Calif. (Jan. 26) - A commuter train smashed into an SUV left on a crossing by a suicidal man early Wednesday, derailed and crashed into another train, authorities said. Ten people were killed and more than 100 injured.

Deadly Train Crash

The SUV driver changed his mind about suicide and left the vehicle before it was hit, Police Chief Randy Adams said. The man will be charged with homicide, he said.

Firefighters picked through twisted wreckage and carried wounded passengers from the trains to a triage center set up in a nearby parking lot.

One commuter train was headed from Los Angeles' Union Station to downtown Burbank, and the other was bound to Union Station from Moorpark, Metrolink officials said.

''I heard a noise. It got louder and louder,'' said passenger Diane Brady, 56, of Simi Valley. ''And next thing I knew the train tilted, everyone was screaming and I held onto a pole for dear life. I held on for what seemed like a week and a half, it seemed. It was a complete nightmare.''

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In a light rain, firefighters climbed ladders into windows of a battered train tipped onto its side.

Nearly 300 firefighters were at the scene in the suburb north of Los Angeles and 35 ambulances were taking injured passengers to hospitals, officials said.

Dazed passengers, some limping, gathered at tables in a nearby store, while the injured sprawled on color-coded mats in the parking lot: red for those with severe injuries, green for those less seriously harmed.

One of the dead passengers was identified as a 23-year veteran of Baca's department, Sheriff's Deputy James Tutino.

As the cars tumbled off the tracks, one of the Metrolink trains struck a parked Union Pacific car, tipping it onto its side, said Kathryn Blackwell, a railroad spokeswoman in Omaha, Neb.

One Metrolink car was sent twisting backward by the force of the crash, which occurred after 6 a.m. A small fire erupted, and smoke could be seen wafting from the wreckage.

George Touma, 19, of Burbank, said he was called by his mother, who was on one of the Metrolink trains.

''She told me she was bleeding in the head and her arm was really hurting,'' said Touma, who was searching for her. ''I'm really worried because she has vertigo and when I tried to call back she wouldn't answer.'' He said she told him of hearing ''sequential loud noises and then somebody pulled her out of the train while it was burning.''

Metrolink began service in 1992 and operates seven lines, part of a multibillion-dollar transportation network aimed at reducing pollution and congestion in Southern California.

AP-NY-01-26-05 1230EST
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