Drugs, drinking popular at park near Metrolink tracks where teens were killed, neighbor says
A section of railroad tracks in south Orange County where two people were struck and killed by a Metrolink train Thursday is near a park that is frequented by teenagers and young adults drinking and taking drugs, a neighbor said.
"Kids are always drinking and partying down there. It's been a problem," said Keith Ball, who lives near the crash scene on the northern edge of Mission Viejo, about 50 miles southeast of Los Angeles.
Bell said he heard young people partying earlier Thursday morning and is aware of a park near the tracks where teenagers are known to gather.
"Partying and train tracks – probably not a good idea," Ball said.
The incident occurred shortly after 6 a.m. when Metrolink train 603, heading north from Oceanside to Los Angeles, hit three young people on the stretch of railroad tracks in a concrete-lined trench underneath the Alicia Parkway overpass.
A young man and woman died instantly, said Jim Amormino, a spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department. An earlier report that said two young men died. A third person, a female, was also struck, and called 911 at 6:15 a.m. to report the incident. She suffered moderate injuries and was hospitalized.
The forceful collision scattered body parts on both sides of the overpass. They were covered by tarp later in the morning.
Metrolink spokeswoman Angie Starr said investigators believe the collision occurred under the overpass. Investigators were on scene to reconstruct the crash.
Amormino said there is no confirmation alcohol was a factor in the crash and said officials are investigating what the youths were doing on the tracks.
A Los Angeles Times database shows there had been no accidents or near-collisions on that section of the track between 1993 -- when the Metrolink commuter train system began running -- and September 2008.
Starr, the Metrolink spokeswoman, said it was obvious that anyone on the tracks in the area would have known they were trespassing. The tracks at the bottom of a concrete-lined trench are fenced off and difficult to access, she said.
"It's dangerous," Starr said. "It's unfortunate. It's very sad."
Metrolink service from L.A. and San Bernardino through south Orange County has been disrupted, and a bus connection has been set up to ferry passengers between the Irvine and Laguna Niguel stations, Starr said. Amtrak train service also has been disrupted. Updates on Metrolink service can be found on Metrolink's Twitter page.
Starr said Metrolink hopes normal train service will resume by the afternoon commute.
-- Christopher Goffard in Mission Viejo and Rong-Gong Lin II in Los Angeles
Photo: Orange County Sheriff's investigators collect evidence along the train tracks, where three teens were struck by a Metrolink commuter train Thursday morning. Credit: Don Kelsen / Los Angeles Times
Below is a Google satellite map image zooming in on the accident scene.