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Families, officials commemorate train disaster anniversary

Recently, family members and present and former public officials gathered at Metrolink's Union Station to dedicate a plaque commemorating the 10th anniversary of the rail disaster at the Stoney Point Park border. The accident claimed more than two dozen lives.

More than 100 others were injured in the horrific head-on collision of a Metrolink passenger train with a Union Pacific freight on Sept. 12, 2008. According to the Los Angeles Daily News, it was "the worst train collision in recent California history."

Former mayor speaks

At the downtown gathering held on the Metrolink train station's north patio, the mother of daughters killed in the carnage read off each of the 25 victims' names as the former bell on the crashed Metrolink car tolled. The bell is part of a permanent display at the Pomona dispatch center. It serves as a reminder of the extensive losses in that crash.

The rail disaster was the worst in recent years in California. Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa got emotional when he recalled telling "a mother and father that their child wouldn't be coming home."

Metrolink engineer at fault

After a thorough investigation by federal authorities, officials concluded the crash occurred because a contracted engineer was texting on his cellphone and missed the red signal on the tracks that indicated another train was headed their way.

Metrolink strove for safer system

In the wake of the tragedy, Metrolink pledged to make theirs the safest rail system in operation in the United States. They implement Positive train control — the first in the U.S. —using computerized tracking systems to pinpoint each train's locations on the tracks.

Second gathering also held

Another commemoration was held near the crash site. An LA councilman for Chatsworth attended. He personally responded to the 2008 disaster. At the moment of the collision — 4:22 p.m. — nearby church bells tolled.

A path to justice

After a disaster of this magnitude occurs, especially one that was so easily preventable, it's common for both criminal and civil court cases to be filed. Even if the individuals who cause accidents don't face criminal charges for the injuries and deaths, they could still face civil justice through wrongful death lawsuits filed by victims' survivors and the personal injury claims of those who got hurt.

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