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Casey Jones

Like the ballad of Casey Jones (John Luther “Casey” Jones) written by Casey’s friend Wallace Saunders, an African-American engine wiper for the Illinois Central, and later immortalized by The Grateful Dead, a passenger train hit a freight train head-on on Friday evening, this time in Chatsworth, a northwestern suburb of Los Angeles.

Unlike the train wreck immortalized in the ballad, the freight train was not stopped, and the engineer of the passenger train was not the only person to die.

The Metrolink train carried about 220 commuters and two crew members. The passenger train collided head-on with a Union Pacific freight train at about 4:30 PM on Friday on a curved stretch of track. The top of the bend is a 500 foot-long (152.4 m-long) tunnel under part of Stony Point Park. A railroad siding exists where a train can wait while an oncoming train passes. Metrolink spokeswoman Denise Tyrell described the cause as a probable horrible error.

The death toll has risen to 23 and 135 people were injured. Some 45 of the injured were in critical condition. Update September 13, 2008, 8:35 PM: The death toll is now 25.) Update September 14, 2008: TV news featured a story in which a Metrolink spokesperson stated that the accident apparently resulted from the Metrolink engineer ignoring a stop signal. There is an investigation into whether he was “texting” at the time. Texting kills.)

(Note added September18, 2008: The California Public Utilities Commission has temporarily banned texting on the job. The ban may become permanent.)

(Note added October 1, 2008: The engineer of the Metrolink passenger train sent a text message 22 seconds before the collision with the freight train. Indeed, texting kills.)

A passenger described the wreck as running into a brick wall at 60 miles/hour (96.6 km/hour).

Perhaps it was EXACTLY like that. If both trains were traveling near the speed limit of 40 miles/hour (64.4 km/hour) on that fateful stretch of track, the collision could have been like hitting a brick wall at up to 80 miles/hour (128.7 km/hour).

We send our sympathies to the families of those killed in this horrible wreck, and keep the injured in our thoughts.

-Bill at Cheshire Cat Photo™

You can view higher-resolution photos (*generally* 7-30 megabytes, compressed) at the Cheshire Cat Photo™ Pro Gallery on Shutterfly™, where you can also order prints and gifts decorated with the photos of your choice from the gallery. Apparel and other gifts decorated with some of our most popular photos can be ordered from the Cheshire Cat Photo™ Store on CafePress®. Both Shutterfly™ and CafePress® ship to most international locations worldwide! If you don’t see what you want or would like to receive an email when new photos are up on the site, send us an email at

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