Tragedy remembered on first anniversary.
As the world remembers the thousands of lives lost on September 11th, 2001, most everyone in the Los Angeles/Ventura County area will be planning on a second day of recognition on September 12th; the one year anniversary of the Metrolink train disaster.
Metrolink commuter train 111 was headed towards the Simi Valley area when it collided head on at full speed with a Union Pacific Freight Train. The impact was massive, and wreckage was spewed over Stoney Point Park in Chatsworth.
After a massive rescue effort, 135 patients were transferred to valley hospitals, including 17 who were sent to Providence Holy Cross, one of the Santa Clarita area’s main hospitals.
Francisco Ocampo was one of those treated at Providence Holy Cross.
“I was reading a magazine when I looked up and saw the other train coming,” he recalled. “I didn’t think anything of it at the time, and I just assumed we would bypass each other like we always do.”
But then something went horribly wrong.
“I heard a loud crash, and the next thing I know I’m waking up at the hospital.”
Ocampo suffered from a cracked rib, severe knee damage, 2nd degree burns on his face and bruises all over his body.
In an ironic twist, Ocampo wasn’t even supposed to be on that train in the first place. His original plans were to take the 1:10 p.m. train home to pick up his daughter from school after a minimum day.
“She wanted to spend some time at her friend’s house, and so I decided to take the later train home,” he said.
After three months of recovery, Ocampo was finally able to return to work in January. Commuting from Fillmore to downtown Los Angeles left few alternatives for transportation however, and Ocampo had to build up the courage to ride the Metrolink again. He now rides five days a week.
All of the patients treated at Providence Holy Cross recovered.
25 people were not so lucky, dying as a result of the crash. One victim, Kari Hsieh, was a Hart High school senior on her way to work in her family’s restaurant in Simi Valley.