YUMA, Ariz. – The truck driver involved in a train derailment in Oxnard, California has been identified and is from Yuma, Arizona. In a press conference, the Oxnard Police Department identified the man as 54-year-old Jose Alejandro Sanchez Ramirez. Ramirez was taken into custody for a felony hit and run investigation, following the train derailment.
The Metrolink train bound for Los Angeles struck the pickup truck. The truck was abandoned Tuesday morning, after the driver took a wrong turn and got stuck on the tracks.
Three of the train’s five cars toppled over, injuring 28 people, four critically.
Passenger Joel Bingham said there was a loud boom followed by the sound of brakes screeching and a rumbling sound. He thought everything was going to be fine until the train teetered, and slid on its side.
The four passenger cars remained largely intact as did the locomotive.
Ramirez’ wife, Lucila Sanchez, spoke to us Tuesday evening. She said that she headed to the Los Angeles area after hearing from her husband, shortly after the incident. Sanchez said that her husband told her he couldn’t see the tracks, and that it was an accident. She also said that Ramirez experienced a panic attack.
Ron Bamieh, Ramirez’ attorney, released a statement to us, saying the following:
“My office has been retained to represent Mr. Ramirez today. Our preliminary investigation established that Mr. Ramirez was driving his company’s truck and trailer, owned by The Grower’s Company, Inc., in Oxnard this morning when the truck became entangled and unable to move off the railroad tracks. The truck and trailer were somehow stuck. An investigator with Oxnard Police Department said that it was common for trucks to get caught on the tracks, saying this is at least the fourth or fifth time it has happened at that location. Mr. Ramirez tried to do all he could to extricate his truck from the position it was in but he was unable to do so. He saw the train coming and had to leave his truck to get help. “
“It appears from preliminary reports there was nothing Mr. Ramirez could do to prevent the accident once his truck was stuck on the tracks. It is in unfortunate and sad event, and it’s the hope of Mr. Ramirez and his family that all those injured will have a speedy recovery and full return to health.”
“It is clear this was an accident, the arrest of Mr. Ramirez is the unfortunate result of Law Enforcement attempting to cast blame on a man who was caught in a tragic situation with no way to stop the oncoming tragedy. Mr. Ramirez is despondent and only has concerned for those who were hurt. He does not know how or why the truck he was driving stopped on the tracks, and wishes there was something he could have done to prevent this accident.”
“He has been married for 30 years, has one son who lives in Yuma, and last year he lost his only daughter to Cancer. Mr. Ramirez and his wife are now helping raise his daughter’s two children. He is a resident of Yuma, Arizona and has worked for the same company for the past 12 years.”
Ramirez was booked into the Ventura County Jail, where his bail is set at $150,000. He does have a valid Arizona commercial driver’s license. The truck appeared to be carrying some sort of welding equipment.