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Metrolink Train Accident Claims 23 Lives After Collision With Union Pacific Freight Train

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As dawn broke in the Southern California suburb of Chatsworth, the light of day brought to focus the horrors that had occurred the afternoon before. Authorities worked feverishly throughout the night, removing bodies from the mangled wreckage of a Metrolink passenger train that had collided with a Union Pacific freight train at approximately 4:30 p.m. PT on September 12, 2008. At the time this article was posted, published reports listed the death toll at a staggering 23, with 135 individuals reported injured.

The Metrolink train was carrying about 220 commuters and two crew members when it collided head-on with a Union Pacific freight train Friday in Chatsworth, a northwestern suburb of Los Angeles. Forty-five of the injured were in critical condition, with 40 flown to hospitals, according to Metrolink spokeswoman Denise Tyrrell. Another 50 people sustained what were termed minor injuries, and an additional 40 were treated at the scene but taken to hospitals for evaluation.

While the focus of all involved is on the lives lost and care for the injured, the process of piecing together what went wrong in this tragedy has begun. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said Saturday it was sending a team to Chatsworth to investigate the collision, while Metrolink and Union Pacific officials could not immediately say how the two trains ended up on the same track.

As the death toll rises and the sheer scope and magnitude of this tragic Chatsworth Metrolink Accident becomes evident, our thoughts and prayers are with the injured and their families. It is no overstatement to characterize this train accident as a catastrophic event that the Southern California community will be coping with for a long time to come.

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