(I reported from the crash site until the sun rose with help from colleagues back at the office.)
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A quiet neighborhood on the city’s northwest tip was transformed Friday into a scene of incredible devastation when a commuter train carrying hundreds of people home during the afternoon rush collided head-on with a freight train.
The engine pulling the sleek Metrolink commuter train from downtown Los Angeles to the suburbs collided with the Union Pacific freight, forcing it backward, crumpling the car behind it like a giant aluminum can and tossing passengers in all directions. The freight’s first several cars came to rest in a giant, jumbled pile that, from the air, looked strangely like a collapsed stack of huge toy blocks.
It was immediately evident that the injury toll would be high, and that there had likely been fatalities. Police and firefighters flooded the scene, threw ladders up the side of the crushed commuter car and began pulling dazed and bloodied commuters from the wreckage. More than four hours later, long after the sun had set, they were still at it.