Chatsworth train crash victims to be remembered in Simi Valley
A day after the somber national remembrance of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, survivors of one of the worst railroad disasters in U.S. history are holding a memorial of their own.
On Sept. 12, 2008, Metrolink 111 was scheduled to arrive in Simi Valley at 4:23 p.m. But the train crashed in Chatsworth, just a few miles from the Simi Valley station. Twenty-five people died, including the engineer who was later determined to be texting when he failed to stop at a warning light.
Relatives of those who died and some of the more than 130 people who suffered injuries will be on hand at Simi Valley’s train station Monday afternoon, marking the moment their loved ones’ train was to have pulled in three years ago.
Some of the survivors and their families are angry, frustrated that their medical bills exceed the money they are to receive in a settlement with Metrolink and Veolia, the French company that Metrolink hired to run the line.
“Some of the victims won’t get enough to pay their medical bills,” said Barbara Kloster, a Thousand Oaks resident whose son Michael nearly died in the wreck.
Michael Kloster has resumed his career as an audio engineer despite losing a kidney, his gall bladder, most of his spleen, and massive injuries to his digestive tract. Even with his settlement of $7 million -- the second highest among those injured –- he’ll be $500,000 in the red, according to his mother.
A 1997 federal law -- the Amtrak Reform and Accountability Act -- caps liability damages for railroads at $200 million. That provision was widely criticized after the crash.
Barbara Kloster organized this afternoon’s remembrance. She said there’s no formal program.
“We’ll probably just hug,” she said.
-- Steve Chawkins
Photo: Investigators at the crash scene in 2008. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times