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Metrolink settles with spokeswoman who quit after Chatsworth train crash

May 5, 2009 | 12:06 pm

Tyrrell200 Metrolink has agreed to pay a former spokeswoman who resigned after last year’s Chatsworth train crash $135,500 to settle potential claims against the agency, according to a copy of the agreement obtained today.

Denise Tyrrell, who recently was hired to manage the state Public Utilities Commission’s Los Angeles office, was the public face of the commuter rail agency in the grim early hours after the disaster, which killed 25 and injured 135.

She resigned within days after being criticized by some Metrolink officials and federal investigators for announcing that a preliminary investigation had found that the Metrolink engineer ran a red light. Investigators have since said the same thing.

Tyrrell later said that Metrolink's chief executive, David R. Solow, had agreed to make the public announcement. Some board members criticized the admission as premature, but other observers praised Tyrrell’s swift candor.

The settlement was signed in March but released only today in response to a Times public-records request. It bars Tyrrell from disclosing confidential Metrolink information or making any statements disparaging or discrediting the agency, its employees or board members.

Tyrrell said she could not comment beyond an agreed-upon statement that the two sides had settled all differences.

“I wish them the best,” she said.

Metrolink had no comment, said spokesman Francisco Oaxaca.

Also included in the agreement is a requirement that Solow write Tyrrell, an agency spokeswoman for four years, a letter of recommendation.

The state PUC regulates Metrolink and other rail agencies. The settlement notes Tyrrell may be required to comment on Metrolink in that capacity.

-- Rich Connell

Photo: Denise Tyrrell. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times