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Veteran Engineer Injured In California Train Crash Dies

The Metrolink train derailed after colliding with a truck in Oxnard. The truck's driver was arrested on suspicion of hit-and-run, but prosecutors said they will wait for the investigation to be completed before deciding on criminal charges.

Last updated on March 3, 2015, at 1:15 p.m. ET

Posted on February 24, 2015, at 10:58 a.m. ET

Firefighters and other officials walk near cars from a derailed Metrolink train.
Mark J. Terrill / AP

Firefighters and other officials walk near cars from a derailed Metrolink train.

The engineer of a Metrolink train that derailed after hitting a truck in California last week has died, according to multiple reports.

Glen Steele, 62, died early Tuesday morning in Los Angeles, the Ventura County Star reported.

His exact cause of death is pending, the newspaper reported. The Los Angeles Times reported Steele succumbed to his injuries sustained in the crash.

Steele was one of four people critically injured of the 50 hurt in the crash. He had worked for Metrolink for over 40 years and was the top person on its seniority list, according to the Ventura County Star.

Criminal charges have yet to be filed against a driver in the crash, Jose Alejandro Sanchez-Ramirez, after he was arrested more than a mile away from the scene in Oxnard.

A few hours before Sanchez-Ramirez was scheduled to appear in court Thursday, Ventura County District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced that he would wait until the investigation in completed before deciding on filing charges.

The investigation, he added, was "complex and involves numerous local and federal agencies including the District Attorney's Office, Oxnard Police Department and the National Traffic Safety Board."

Sanchez-Ramirez was arrested on suspicion of felony hit-and-run but was released from police custody last week, according to the Los Angeles Times.

"While charges will not be filed at this time, the arrest of Jose Alejandro Sanchez-Ramirez by the Oxnard Police Department was clearly appropriate and lawful," Totten said in the statement.

Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

Speaking at a news conference after the accident, Oxnard Asst. Police Chief Jason Benites said Sanchez-Ramirez appeared to be "disoriented" and "very unsettled" when he was picked up by a police officer more than a mile away from the crash site.

The 54-year-old professional truck driver from Arizona apparently turned onto the train tracks before the collision near the crossing at 5th Street and Rice Avenue, Benites said.

Earlier reports suggested he got stuck at the crossing, but a National Transportation Safety Board member later said Sanchez-Ramirez was not stuck and had been traveling down the tracks before the collision.

It was unclear why he drove onto the tracks, or if he was under the influence of any substance at the time, Benites said.

Sanchez-Ramirez was convicted of driving under the influence in Arizona in 1998, the Los Angeles Times reported.

He was cited for multiple driving violations with the DUI, including failure to obey a police officer and having liquor with a minor on the premises. He was also cited for two other driving-related offenses in 2004 and 2007.

Johnny Corona / AP

The train was going 79 mph when it spotted the truck and engaged its emergency brakes, officials said. Many of those who were hospitalized suffered head trauma, bone fractures and other injuries.

Metrolink Jeff Lustgarten told reporters that the cars were equipped with safety technology meant to absorb the energy of a collision, much like a crumple bumper.

"I think we can safely say the technology worked, it definitely minimized" the impact of the crash, he said.

Johnny Corona / AP

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is leading the investigation into the crash, officials said.

The NTSB said they secured video recorders from the accident, which will be sent to Washington, D.C., to be analyzed.

Investigators also plan to examine the roadway, railroad crossing signals, and the severely damaged truck.

Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

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