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Light-Rail Train and Minivan Collide; Injuries Minimal Despite Wicked-Looking Wreck

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A Metro light-rail train crashed into a passenger van earlier this afternoon in Central Phoenix, resulting in a spectacular wreck but just a few minor injuries.

The collision occurred just after 4 p.m. near Washington and 19th streets, when a westbound train and a late-model white Chevrolet Express came together, causing the vehicle to become wedged between the train car and a lightpost. The left side of the train was riddled with cracked glass and impact points. 

At least one person, the train's driver, was taken by ambulance to a hospital. Phoenix police on the scene declined to comment on which party caused the accident.

The few-dozen passengers on the train were delayed for a while, including several ASU downtown students who were on their way to class. As they milled around with curious onlookers from neaby businesses, a stench of gasoline leaking from the van filled the air, causing Phoenix fire officials to ask people to put out their cigarettes.

Paige Meier, a 21-year-old Tempe resident, was on board in the first car when the accident occurred.

"I thought the train was going off the track, or at least it felt like that was happening," she says. "There were a lot of bangs and glass going everywhere."

Even though no one was badly hurt, this wreck will probably spark more talk about the fledgling system's safety record. Back in March, the Arizona Republic reported that Metro was heading toward more first-year collisions than the light-rail system in Houston.

The 20-mile system in Phoenix saw its first train-vehicle collision -- a hit-and-run -- just four days after going into service.


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