Tuesday, September 16, 2008

One eleven: day five

This is a continuation of my thoughts about the Metrolink train crash on September 12, 2008

The 113 train is usually in the station early but I took a slow leisurely walk to the platform stopping to use the lady's room and buy a snack. The train was waiting, I punched my ticket and got on board. The first week I started taking the train a young engineering student told me never to sit in the first car. Go to the back of the train because if there were a wreck those are where the worst injuries are. Counting back three cars I climbed on board and went upstairs where it's less crowded. I usually set in the middle of the train, it seems quieter there, and settled in for the hour-long trip home.

As I remember, we'd only left our second stop, Glendale when people behind me started to chatter about something wrong past the Chatsworth station, one stop before I get off. There were groans and speculation of a car or person or something else to slow us down; we never thought it was so serious. Five minutes later passengers started getting text and phone calls about the accident. Since there aren't timed tickets it isn't uncommon to catch a later or earlier train and friends and family were calling. Seems there was an accident before the first tunnel.

Since I do take that train I quickly called and left a message for my husband; "I'm not on that train, repeat, NOT ON THAT TRAIN." The last thing I wanted was for him to worry. He called me to say he'd heard there were a few fatalities and asked where to pick me up. By this time we were stopped in Van Nuys station and Metrolink was trying to figure out what to do with us. I told him I'd call but not to worry, I'd make it home or at least get closer. They did leave us all off at Northridge, the next stop, and then the train headed back to Union Station.

When we disembarked the conductor announced there would be buses to take us to our final stop. This was a full train as, unlike the 111 that only goes to Moorpark, it goes as far as Montalvo in Ventura. I knew if I could just get the the Chatsworth station there was a Simi Valley city bus that had a regular route back to my Metrolink station, and my car. After an hour of waiting for a bus I jumped on a city bus and headed out to Chatsworth.

The Chatsworth station is only about three miles from the accident and all of the streets and off ramps near it were closed to traffic leaving our poor bus driver at a loss. He had no instruction at all so when we got close me and another man got off the bus and walked the other mile to the station. I have never in my life seen so many emergency vehicles, including helicopters. At one time I counted seven over the crash site though I'm sure some might belong to news stations.

Finally at the station there were a few Metrolink employees and harried though they were could give me info on the Simi Valley bus. They assured me it would be here and if not, they'd have a cab take me home. I would not need a cab. If the bus couldn't make it in I'd just wait until my husband could pick me up. I was already feeling quite lucky to be alive at that point. My bus made it in and out and took me safely to my car at the Simi station. It was a long and trying day for me but nothing like the rescuers or the people left injured on the train or the families left waiting and wondering about their loved ones; not to mention the ones never returning.

to be continued …

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