The driver who died after a Metrolink train plowed into his car at a Santa Ana track was identified Tuesday as a 61-year-old local resident.
Juan Jose Espinoza Padilla of Santa Ana died in the crash that happened around 5:30 p.m. Monday on Grand Avenue, just north of Hunter Avenue, according to the Santa Ana Police Department.
The incident also injured his dog, which was inside the Toyota sedan he was driving, the agency said.
Tuesday afternoon, the department shared a photo of the pooch, Pecas. Police say he is recovering well and has been reunited with family.
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#TongueOutTuesday 👅Due to the high volume of inquiries received regarding an update on the dog who was involved in the fatal traffic collision (Metrolink Train vs Vehicle) last night, we are happy to report Pecas (Freckles) 🐾he has been reunited with his family & is recovering 👍🏼 #SAPDPIO #Update #getwellsoon #onthemend
Investigators believe Padilla was heading north on Grand Avenue when the railroad arms came down. He waited for a slow-moving train to pass in front of him before continuing but was broadsided on its passenger side by a second train, officials said.
“He waited for that train to pass, and then for whatever reason, hit the accelerator to get through the tracks and was struck by a train that was traveling northwest,” Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said. “That train carried the vehicle approximately 680 feet.”
The train, identified by Metrolink as train 689 of its Orange County line, had three employees and 219 passengers inside at the time of the incident, according to police. None of them reported any injuries, officials said.
Police and the Orange County Fire Authority responded to the crash within minutes, Bertagna said. Padilla was pronounced dead at the scene while the pit bull inside the Toyota suffered minor scratches.
The dog received treatment at the Orange County Emergency Pet Clinic before being transferred to OC Animal Care, Bertagna told KTLA. The victim’s family has been notified of the animal’s location, he added.
The incident during the rush-hour commute shut down the tracks for hours and caused heavy delays.
The case remains under investigation, and authorities urged anyone with information to contact Cpl. Danny Carrillo at 714-245-8346.