The truck driver who caused a deadly 2015 Metrolink train derailment in Oxnard after driving his pickup onto the tracks and leaving it there was sentenced Wednesday to 30 days in jail, prosecutors said.
Jose Alejandro Sanchez-Ramirez, 58, was also given three years of probation, the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
The Yuma, Arizona, resident previously admitted to misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter in an open plea. DA’s officials said 30 days in jail was the maximum sentence allowed by the court, unless the judge chose to exercise their discretion.
Sanchez-Ramirez had been working for 24 hours when, trying to turn onto Fifth Street from Rice Avenue, he mistakenly drove onto the railroad tracks instead the morning of Feb. 24, 2015, a National Transportation Safety Board investigation found.
The Ford F-450 had been sitting on the tracks for 12 minutes when the Metrolink train slammed into it, and Sanchez-Ramirez told officials he tried to call 911 but was in too much of a panic to do so, the NTSB said.
The force of the impact caused three of the train’s cars to fully derail, coming to rest on their sides, Sky5 aerial footage showed.
The train’s engineer, 62-year-old Homeland resident Glenn Steele, died after spending a week in the hospital. He was a 40-year veteran of the rail industry.
Two other crew members and 31 of the train’s 46 passengers were also hurt, with nearly all of them hospitalized. Victims were treated for spinal and head injuries, multiple fractures and pulmonary contusions, among other conditions.
Sanchez-Ramirez had spent 17 hours on the road, towing a trailer loaded with equipment from Arizona, before he undershot the turn onto Fifth Street, investigators said.
The pickup became immobilized, and Sanchez-Ramirez was unsuccessful in his attempts to get it off the tracks. He fled the truck about eight seconds before the train hit it.
The driver didn’t notify authorities about what happened and was found nearly 2 miles away. He was arrested that day, but released days later pending further investigation.
Sanchez-Ramirez was charged in February 2016 and pleaded guilty this April. He had been out of custody on his own recognizance until being ordered to jail Wednesday with a credit of 5 days time served, court records show.