Truck driver working on METROrail expansion takes out Danger Train; 15 injured (UPDATED)

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Dump Truck Driver Vanishes After Crash That Derailed Light Rail Car: Victims suffered minor injuries – Stephen Dean, KPRC-2 News

Police said a dump truck driver disappeared after colliding with a METRO light rail car Tuesday, knocking it off the tracks in downtown Houston, Local 2 Investigates reported.

The driver was working as a subcontractor to build METRO’s newest light rail lines a few blocks away when, police said, he ran a red light and was broadsided by the rail car at Main and Capitol around 9 a.m.

This idea of running light-rail trams down busy streets at grade is SO (third) world class. We should build more! (Oh wait, the driver who disappeared was doing just that).

Fifteen people were taken to the hospital, including the rail operator and the dump truck driver.

We wish everyone injured in this latest fiasco a speedy recovery. It’s not their fault our transit organization thinks light-rail trams are a good mix on busy streets with Houston’s horrible drivers.

METRO officials said the dump truck driver, Paniagua Prisciliano Espino of Espino Trucking in Fresno was taken to the hospital, but he took off before police could arrive to ask questions.

METRO said he left the hospital before he could be treated, and he wasn’t seen again.

Hmm, now why do you suppose he would do that? Probably just confused (perhaps suffering from a concussion), right?

(10/05/2011 UPDATE) KPRC-2 now reports that the driver was NOT missing:

On Tuesday, police said that Espino had disappeared from the hospital because he was not there when they went to question him. On Wednesday, investigators said Espino was taken to different hospital than what they were told.

Espino left the hospital and went home after officers did not show up.

METRO police said Espino never tried to run or hide from them. There was simply a communication error.

Well, you’d think METRO’s expensive communications operation might have gotten that important detail, but that shop seems to work about as well as the rest of the organization.

It’s good that METRO has some lowly buses they can press into service when incidents like this shut down their prized light-rail-tram transit backbone (or rain does, or an electric short does, or smoke in a car does, or a pedestrian does, or… well, you all know the story by now).

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Kevin Whited
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