Driver who caused Los Angeles train crash charged with murder

Thursday, January 27, 2005

LOS ANGELES — Eleven charges of murder have been brought against the driver who caused the Glendale train crash, in which 11 people died.

Juan Manuel Alvarez, 25, could well face the death penalty for his actions. It appears he parked his Jeep Cherokee on the railway line with the intention of committing suicide, but then changed his mind and left the vehicle. Three trains carrying approximately 350 people were involved in the crash, injuring up to 200 passengers.

His arraignment was delayed from Thursday to Friday due to his medical condition. He was charged with 11 counts of murder and was held without bail in a hospital's jail ward after apparently slitting his own wrists and stabbing himself in the chest. Prosecutors have filed 10 counts of murder with so-called special circumstances, and will add the 11th victim to the complaint shortly. Under California law, this makes Alvarez eligible for the death penalty.

The accident was caused as a result of a chain-reaction derailment of three Union Pacific trains. Investigators are continuing to try to determine the exact sequence of events.

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