Man dies while trying to kill girlfriend at rail crossing
SUN VALLEY – A man who was arguing with his girlfriend today drove through the guardrail of a railroad crossing and parked his car in the path of a speeding train, killing himself and critically injuring the woman, police said. The attempted murder-suicide occurred just after noon near Branford Street and San Fernando Road, where the couple was waiting behind two other cars for a northbound Metrolink train to pass, said LAPD Officer Mike Lopez. The man drove his 2005 Dodge Magnum around the two cars, through the guardrail and parked it on the tracks so that the passenger side was directly in the path of the approaching train, Lopez said. “He drove up on the tracks as the train was coming,” Lopez said. He added the train struck the rear end of the car, causing it to spin around and eject the man who was not wearing a seatbelt. “It’s amazing she survived,” said LAPD spokesman Kevin Maiberger. “You should see the car.” Police Detective Pat Barron said the car was on the tracks for about four to five seconds before the train plowed into it. “The train was honking its horn when it collided with the vehicle,” Barron said. Monday’s collision came more than two years after the disastrous Glendale Metrolink train wreck, which killed 11 people and injured 180 others. The crash occurred when Juan Manuel Alvarez, then 25, of Compton, parked his Jeep Cherokee on the tracks in a botched suicide attempt. Alvarez jumped out just before the train struck his car, setting off a spectacular three-train collision. Following the Glendale collision, Metrolink’s practice of using locomotives to both push and pull trains came under intense criticism. When locomotives are pulling the train – like in Monday’s collision – the engine is out in front, which offers more protection to passengers on the train. In the Glendale crash, the locomotive pushed the train, meaning the lighter, passenger cars collided directly with the car on the tracks. Staff Writer Susan Abram contributed to this story. [email protected] (818)713-3329 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “What saved her was she was in her seatbelt,” Lopez said. The man, 21-year-old Brandon Funches of South Los Angeles, died at the scene. His 23-year-old girlfriend, whose name was not released, was taken to Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills where she was listed in critical condition, Lopez said. Metrolink spokeswoman Denise Tyrrell said none of the 132 people on the Antelope Valley-bound train was injured and that the train did not derail. They said passengers traveling on the line later in the day experienced five- to 10-minute delays. Metrolink officials said the train was pulling the passenger cars at the time, meaning the locomotive collided directly with the car.