Expo Line train collides with student driver near USC

A USC student making an improper turn onto campus was struck by an Expo Line train on Exposition Boulevard at 10:48 a.m. on Saturday, leaving 21 injured and two in critical condition.

The driver was identified as 31-year-old Jacob Fadley, a graduate student in the School of Cinematic Arts. He is in stable condition as of Sunday afternoon.

In a statement released to Cinematic Arts students, staff and faculty, the school confirmed that Fadley was the driver in Saturday morning’s collision.

“We have been following his condition closely in tandem with the USC Office of Student Affairs and have been in touch with his family,” the statement read. “While Jacob was very seriously injured he is currently in stable condition. We are hopeful that he will recover and be able to continue pursuing his dream of becoming a filmmaker.”

The car, a Hyundai Sonata, was driving eastbound on Exposition Boulevard and made an improper left turn into Gate 1 of the University Park campus when an eastbound train struck the driver’s side door.

Fadley was cut out of the vehicle using the Jaws of Life and transported to California Hospital Medical Center. Following the incident, Officials said that Fadley was is in grave condition. The LAPD South Traffic Bureau confirmed that the driver was a student.

The train, which was going an average speed of 35 mph, was partially derailed during the collision. Train passengers were evacuated and treated for injuries at the scene. Ten passengers were transported to a hospital, eight with minor injuries. The train operator was in critical condition following the collision, but was released from the hospital Saturday night.

Sophia Ortega, a freshman majoring in communication who lives in the Arts & Humanities Residential College at Parkside, witnessed the crash from her dorm room window.

“I heard a really loud crash, and I looked out my window and saw the first car of the Metro just veer off the track and onto Exposition and a car was totally smashed into the side of the train,” Ortega said. “Then firefighters used jaws of life to take the entire roof of the car off and pull out the driver.”

Exposition Boulevard and Gate 1 were closed after the collision but reopened Sunday.

The collision is under investigation by LAPD and the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department, which has jurisdiction over the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The Dept. of Public Safety assisted with traffic control.

Exposition Park expected 50,000 visitors to the area Saturday evening when the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum hosted a soccer match between Mexico and Ecuador. According to Metro Rail Project Coordinator Michael Thomas, Metro provided buses to bring game attendees the length of the track that was out of service.

The Expo Line originally opened in April 2012 and has often raised safety concerns for being at-grade with passing traffic.

USC civil engineering professor Najmedin Meshkati worked pro bono prior to the Expo Line’s opening to study its potential safety hazards. Since its opening, he has warned that the line is heavily prone to accidents, and thus commands further attention from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates train crossings.

“I was sad and depressed — like with any accident — but unfortunately I am not surprised,” Meshkati said regarding Saturday’s collision. “If we don’t take decisive action [to prevent future accidents], we will have another one and another one and another one.”

Emma Peplow contributed to this story.

Update: Saturday 2:29 p.m. This story was updated to include a quote from USC Civil Engineering Professor Najmedin Meshkati

Saturday 9:20 p.m. This story was updated to include that the driver was a student and that the train operator was released from the hospital. 

Sunday 5:18 p.m. This story was updated to include that the driver was 31-year-old film student Jacob Fadley. 

Benjamin Dunn | Daily Trojan

Benjamin Dunn | Daily Trojan

Benjamin Dunn | Daily Trojan

Benjamin Dunn | Daily Trojan

Benjamin Dunn | Daily Trojan

Benjamin Dunn | Daily Trojan

Benjamin Dunn | Daily Trojan

Benjamin Dunn | Daily Trojan

Benjamin Dunn | Daily Trojan

Benjamin Dunn | Daily Trojan

4 replies
  1. Vertigo Shtick
    Vertigo Shtick says:

    How can this happen?! A train is really big! Like, it’s gonna win. That said, obviously I hope the student driver pulls through. We all make mistakes once in a while.

  2. GokhanE
    GokhanE says:

    Expo Line in this section has more than adequate safety. The problem is the drivers. Smartphone usage while driving has been a major problem. Drivers these days can’t even drive straight, let alone negotiate traffic or intersections. Hit-and-runs around the campus and in greater LA is on the rise. LA ranks near the top in the nation in pedestrian fatalities. Drivers like the one who caused the accident today are the ones behind such fatalities. The driver hit a train today but it could well be a pedestrian or another car. Again, this has nothing to do with the safety of train. Great negligence by some drivers is to blame in the recent rise of traffic accidents and fatalities.

    • Sara Clayton
      Sara Clayton says:

      Totally agree with you. The police officer even said it was an “improper” turn, but I’m sure there was more to it than just that. The timing for this accident couldn’t have been worse, with nearly 90,000 people attending the Mexico vs. Ecuador soccer game tonight.

      • johnmcnary1
        johnmcnary1 says:

        Yes, but it gives yet another USC civil engineering professor yet another chance to say “I told you so” “trains are no good” “everyone should be in cars.” Next, Prof. Moore’s letter to the editor will be in the LA Times in 2 days, just watch. Trains like this run all over the world. USC can be oh so proud of itself for these two anti-government professors grinding it out for the automakers, day in, day out.

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