VENTURA (CBSLA.com) — The truck driver accused of triggering a Metrolink train to derail in Oxnard was released from jail after prosecutors announced that the 54-year-old would not immediately face charges in connection with the crash pending the outcome of an investigation.
Jose Alejandro Sanchez-Ramirez of Yuma, Ariz., is accused of abandoning his 2005 F-450 produce truck, which was hauling a trailer with welding equipment, after it got stuck on the train tracks Tuesday.READ MORE: 29-Year-Old Mesa Verde Man Faces Felony Arson Charges
The Metrolink Ventura County Line 102 train bound for Los Angeles derailed and crashed into the truck near 5th Street and Rice Avenue in Oxnard, firefighters said. Officials said the truck caught fire and five cars derailed upon impact. The crash happened about 5:45 a.m. Tuesday.
“My father and the rest of my family are praying for everyone’s speedy recovery,” said Daniel Sanchez, the truck driver’s son. “Our concern and thoughts are with the victims of the accident.”
Sanchez-Ramirez’s family would not comment to the media about the effect the crash has had on their family.
Sanchez-Ramirez’s attorney said his client made repeated attempts to remove the vehicle from the tracks but ran for his life as the train approached, according to the Associated Press.
“The federal agency investigating this is telling us they’re not done with their investigation but OPD [Oxnard Police Department] is in 12 hours? Just on its face, it’s ridiculous. And today, the D.A. thought so and thought, ‘Hey, we should probably get all the facts before we rush into something here’ and I respect that decision,” Sanchez-Ramirez’s attorney Ron Bamieh said.
The National Transportation Safety Board says cameras and data recorders revealed the train horn sounded 11 seconds before impact and the emergency brakes were applied eight seconds before impact.READ MORE: Childcare Crisis: Pandemic Closures Cause Economic Ripple Effect
As CBS2’s Amy Johnson reports, the train had slowed to 56 mph. Investigators said the truck straddled the track while the trailer was off the track.
“The headlights were on. The emergency flashers were on. And the driver’s door was open,” NTSB investigator Robert Sumwalt said.
As Johnson reports, Sanchez-Ramirez turned onto the train tracks and was unable to remove his truck before the Metrolink train barreled into it.
More than two dozen people on board were injured in the crash. Officials report that three victims remain hospitalized in critical condition Thursday. The most critically injured person was identified as the 62-year-old train engineer.
“I know there’s great concern for the engineer, who I understand is in critical condition. We’re all praying for his health and hopefully, he’ll return to health soon,” Bamieh said.
The NTSB says their investigation is continuing.
Sanchez-Ramirez was scheduled to appear in court Thursday but instead was released from jail. Footage showed him being escorted out of the facility with his face covered by a jacket.MORE NEWS: Teenager Struck By Vehicle In Seal Beach
Sanchez-Ramirez and his attorney are scheduled to meet May 4 with the District Attorney’s Office.