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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 January, 2005, 16:58 GMT
Murder charges over LA rail crash
Juan Alvarez
Juan Alvarez could face the death penalty
Multiple murder charges have been brought against a driver in Los Angeles who is thought to have caused a train crash in which 11 people died.

Juan Manuel Alvarez, 25, could face the death penalty as he is charged with murder with "special circumstances".

Police believe Mr Alvarez, who was not injured, left his Jeep on a railway line in a suicide bid before changing his mind at the last moment.

He may appear in court on Thursday, depending on his medical


Some 200 people were injured, 40 of them badly, in the crash in the LA suburb of Glendale, which involved three trains.


Prosecutors filed 10 charges of murder on Wednesday night but an 11th charge was being added after the discovery of another body in the wreckage, LA County District Attorney Steve Cooley said.

Mr Cooley said the case was still being evaluated.

"Special circumstances" allegations can make a defendant eligible for the death penalty under state law.

Reports of the detainee's suicidal intentions left the DA unmoved.

"He's not going to engage my sympathy because he was despondent.

"His despondency doesn't move me," he told The Associated Press.

Stuck in the track

Mr Alvarez got out of his vehicle before the two commuter trains crashed during rush hour on Wednesday morning, one of them then hitting a freight train.

According to a boss of rail company Metrolink, David Solow, the Jeep had become stuck between tracks and could not have been moved even if the driver had tried.

Wreckage and bodies were showered over a quarter of a mile (half a kilometre) of track.

Passengers said the impact sounded, and felt like, a bomb exploding.

Dazed commuters who were unhurt by the derailment were seen helping fellow passengers with more severe injuries escape the wreckage.

City work crews hurriedly piled sandbags in street gutters to block streams of fuel leaking from the train mixed with rain threatening to contaminate storm drains leading out to the ocean.

The crash involved two double-decker Metrolink commuter trains one heading south into LA Union Station, the other heading out.
Rear-powered train 100 hit a car parked on the tracks.
It then struck a stationary goods train parked overnight and jackknifed to hit front-pulled train 901.

See pictures from the scene of the crash

Timeline: US train accidents
26 Jan 05 |  Americas
Train crashes in California
06 Jan 03 |  Americas
Rail crash dead memorial service
08 Dec 04 |  Berkshire

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