Death on tracks ends lovers’ spat

first_imgSUN VALLEY – A man who was arguing with his girlfriend Monday 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 apparent suicide and attempted murder occurred just after noon near Branford Street and San Fernando Road, where the couple’s car 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 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 that the train struck the rear end of the car, causing it to spin around and eject the man, who was not wearing a seat belt. “What saved her was she was in her seat belt,” Lopez said of the woman. The man, 21-year-old Brandon Funches of South Los Angeles, died at the scene. His 23-year-old girlfriend, a Los Angeles resident, was taken to Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, where she was listed in critical condition, Lopez said. Her name was not released. Metrolink spokeswoman Denise Tyrrell said none of the 132 people on the Antelope Valley-bound train was injured and the train did not derail. Passengers traveling on the line later in the day experienced five- to 10-minute delays. Metrolink officials could not say how fast the train was traveling when it hit the Magnum, but the speed limit on that stretch of track is nearly 80 mph. “It’s amazing she survived,” LAPD spokesman Kevin Maiberger said of the Dodge’s passenger. “You should see the car.” Police Detective Pat Barron said the car was on the tracks 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. That 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 – as in Monday’s collision – the engine is in front, which offers more protection to passengers. 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!last_img read more