Witness describes train crash, families anxiously wait for news

Katt O'Neill

As of Sunday, September 14, Friday’s Metrolink crash death toll reached 25 and left 135 injured, 40 of which are hospitalized and are in critical condition.

The Metrolink officials took full responsibility for the crash and said on Saturday they are willing to fully cooperate with authorities for investigation.

‘We want to be honest in our appraisal,’ Metrolink spokeswoman Denise Tyrrell told the press.

Tyrrell said that it is believed to be the Metrolink engineer who was responsible for the collision and somehow missed the alert about a freight train passing by. Both trains were traveling at about 40 miles per hour, she said.

A Metrolink commuter train, with 222 passengers on board, was headed to the Moorpark Train Station as a final stop when it crashed head-on with a freight train in the suburb of Chatsworth on Friday at 4:30 p.m.

The search for bodies and survivors was still ongoing after 10 p.m. Friday in hopes of finding any victims that were still trapped in both trains. The sky was lit by five helicopters as firefighters were still making their way through the aftermath Friday night.’
‘ ‘It was human error,’ Tyrrell said.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘

A local eyewitness, 17-year-old Brittany Mortensen, was near the site where she witnessed the head-on collision of a Metrolink train with a Union Pacific freight train.

‘I always go there, the train tracks, to play my guitar’hellip;and then I noticed my guitar started moving,’ Mortensen said. ‘The next thing I see is the two trains crash and fire explosions, as (if) there were bombs planted throughout the trains.’

‘ Mortensen said that at first, her mind couldn’t comprehend the scene she was looking at. ‘It felt like a movie set, except those were no special effects’hellip;A few seconds after the crash happened, I snapped out of it and realized that this was something serious,’ Mortensen said.

Mortensen was trying to figure out how was it possible for two trains to crash right into each other. Rushing to the scene, Mortensen noticed something awkward.
‘I saw containers full of liquid and red, I don’t know what it was, but I know it smelled like gasoline,’ Mortensen said.’ ‘ ‘

Family members of victims rushed to the crash site hoping to hear anything about their loved ones, but no one was allowed through.

A woman, who did not want to give out her name, was less than two miles away from picking up her husband from the Chatsworth train station was crying to police officers, begging them to help her in finding any news about her husband. The woman received no cooperation or feedback from any authorities.

The woman received help from a resident who lived near the train tracks.

‘My mom walked (the woman) to our backyard because it is right next to the train tracks to get to the Chatsworth Hill Academy,’ said Griffin Alexander, an El Camino High School student.

‘I’m not sure if she ever got back there since there were so many cops everywhere,’ Alexander said.

Some victims were airlifted and others were driven to Providence Holy Cross Medical Center as well as other urgent care centers to receive immediate medical care.

Emotions ran high at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center, where family members came together to grieve and pray over victims outside the E.R. room, waiting for the moment to come when they were able to embrace their loved ones.

Family members were denied access to victims, and E.R. officials notified the families of the seriously injured and said many were ‘undergoing surgeries.’