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TRAIN HITS HEAVY TRUCK, INJURES 5 CHP ESCORT TAKES COSTLY WRONG TURN.

Byline: Donna Huffaker Staff Writer

GLENDALE - A Metrolink train smashed into a big rig carrying a $1.5 million piece of oil refining equipment Friday morning, leaving five people with minor injuries and spreading wreckage for hundreds of yards.

``Debris was all over the place,'' said Glendale police Sgt. Rick Young.

Glendale Sgt. Russ Pierce, who was in the area when the earsplitting crash occurred, heard a train coming on the opposite track, so he ran lit flares to warn the conductor about the debris.

Another officer radioed Metrolink and that train hit the brakes, stopping 50 feet short of the crash site, Young said.

``It was safer to stop the southbound train than to risk it,'' Young said.

The train that hit the tractor trailer was headed from Los Angeles to Burbank at 6 a.m. when the crash occurred at Grandview Avenue and San Fernando Road, Young said.

The CHP and a guide vehicle were escorting the oversized rig, carrying a 110,000-pound carbon dioxide condensing unit used in oil refining, down San Fernando Road, when the guide vehicle incorrectly turned onto Grandview Avenue, Young said. The caravan was not supposed to turn.

The truck, which had come from Houston and was en route to El Segundo, turned around and appeared to have gotten its trailer stuck on a dip in the ground, Young said. At that point, the crossing gates lowered and the train rammed into the trailer, picking up the mammoth load and carrying it 200 yards before stopping, he said.

Tracks were closed for six hours, and passengers coming from Oxnard and Lancaster, as well as on Ventura County and Antelope Valley lines, were delayed up to two hours, said Francisco Oaxaca, spokesman for Metrolink.

San Fernando Road was closed down in both directions for 2 1/2 hours, Young said. The southbound lanes were reopened at 2 p.m.

MTA buses took the passengers to the Glendale station, Oaxaca said.

The train received significant damage, Oaxaca said, adding that it had not been determined how fast the train was traveling, but the maximum speed limit for the area was 79 mph.

CAPTION(S):

2 photos, map

Photo: (1 -- 2) Glendale firefighters, at top, look out the smashed cab of a Metrolink train Friday. The train smashed into a CHP-escorted truck hauling a 110,000-pound oil condenser, above, after the machine got snagged on overhead lines.

Gene Blevins/Special to the Daily News

Map: Glendale

Metrolink train and big rig truck collide
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 29, 2000
Words:417
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