Metro Official Resigns Over Crash Announcement

Metrolink Train Collision near Los Angeles

Mark Davis/AP

Less than 24 hours after the tragic L.A. metro crash Friday which killed 25, Metrolink spokeswoman Denise Tyrrell officially blamed it on the engineer. He had run a red light, she told reporters Saturday. This, even before the black boxes had been checked. The National Transportation Safety Board was quick to counter with an announcement that Tyrrell's declaration was premature.

Adding to the confusion, this morning Tyrrell resigned. She says that Metrolink's CEO gave her authority to make the statements, but that the situation has soured too much for her to stay.

Metrolink Spokesperson Denise Tyrrell

hide captionFormer Metrolink spokeswoman Denise Tyrrell.

Hector Mata/AP

She told latimes.com, "I felt the damage to my reputation is so great, I could not work for these people anymore. If I am not mistaken, the engineer blew through a light. The media got on top of this story apparently so unaccustomed to a public agency telling the truth they started to spin it that we were trying to throw all the blame on the engineer."

Meanwhile, the NTSB is investigating claims that the engineer sent a text message at the time of the crash to several "teen train aficionados." Although these reports have yet to be confirmed, they left us wondering: What exactly are "teen train aficionados"? Many news sites (here, here and here) are using this term, without much explanation.

CBS interviewed the teens and found that they considered the engineer to be a friend and educator. Given what they knew about him, they could not believe he would run a red light.

Still, we are left wondering if it's a common practice for young people interested in trains to communicate with engineers? If you know more, email us at what@npr.org.

Making sense of a tragedy of this sort is complicated. Latimes.com has done a nice job with this database of those who have died, including quotes in some cases from their loved ones.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

I am saddened to hear of Denise's resignation this morning. Saturday, she was (and still is) my hero. Her honest paid the ultimate respect to those who had died or been injured - no covering up, no press games ... just REAL honesty. It WAS the fault of the Metrolink engineer. Today they are looking for signs that it may not have totally been his fault. How can that be. We know he was text messaging at the exact moment (4:22pm - based on the time stamp of the text messages) the train went past those signals so, he wasn't ill. If there was glare and he couldn't see the signal, he should have stopped and called in.

For Metrolink to have so chastised this woman for her refreshing approach to accountability, responsibility and simple respect, calls into question their ethics and concren for my safety as a rider. Clearly, in how Metrolink treated Ms. Tyrell, it shows they cared only for hedging their own liability.

I hope that when the dust settles, Ms. Tyrell finds herself much better employed. That is the least of what she should be rewarded for her honesty.

Note to Metrolink with regard to your liability: THERE IS NOWHERE TO HIDE.

Sent by Lizanne Webb | 5:34 PM | 9-15-2008

as jack nicholson said to tom cruise in that movie: "YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!"

resign - NO WAY!
she should've stayed

Sent by steve franklin | 5:43 PM | 9-15-2008

She did not resign. They fired her for her honesty. A breath of fresh air. They should be fired! Not Denise Tyrre.
She did the right thing. Bureaucrats
always say don't tell the public anything. I was a city employee for 28yrs. I know how it works.

Sent by Richard M. Breidenthal | 7:15 PM | 9-15-2008

Denise Tyrre's honest comments were such a breath of fresh air. And they allayed fears that this disaster could be terrorist-related. I wish our society did not have to feel like they always have to cover up mistakes. People make mistakes! If we are open about them everyone can learn from them.

Sent by Sharon Sparks | 10:35 AM | 9-16-2008

Support comes from: