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Mission Viejo car crash kills one, halts trains for four hours

October 20, 2012 | 12:14 pm

A Mission Viejo man was killed after he lost control of his car, drove off an overpass and landed upside down on railroad tracks in an accident that halted train traffic for four hours, authorities said Saturday.

Craig Engstrom, 52, was driving a 1992 Lexus SE 300 eastbound on Alicia Parkway when he hit the center divider at Via Fabricante and ran off the roadway about 6:55 p.m. Friday, said Lt. Joe Balicki of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. He died at the scene, according to the Orange County coroner's office.

Rail traffic was stopped in both directions for nearly four hours while the sheriff’s major accident reconstruction team investigated the crash on the tracks, which are used by Metrolink, Amtrak and BNSF Railway.

About 300 passengers riding two Metrolink commuter trains were held up at the Irvine station for more than an hour until Orange County buses arrived to bring them to stops in Laguna Niguel, San Juan Capistrano, San Clemente and Oceanside, said Scott Johnson, Metrolink spokesman. Three other trains carrying a handful of passengers between Fullerton and Oceanside were also affected.

The tracks were cleared by 10:45 p.m. Friday and all Metrolink service was running normally Saturday, Johnson said.

Balicki said investigators take time to thoroughly probe the cause of all fatal accidents. “Anytime a fatality occurs, they’re going to investigate to the fullest, even though they tie up train traffic,” he said.

Also Friday, a truck driver was killed when his vehicle veered off a San Diego Freeway exit in Irvine and struck a tree. The California Highway Patrol was investigating the accident, which occurred about 7:30 p.m. on the Culver Drive offramp from the southbound side of the freeway.

CHP officers had no further details. The victim's name was withheld pending notification of his next of kin.

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--Teresa Watanabe

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