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First a hero, then a victim

LOS ANGELES — Three years ago, Gregory Lintner walked away with only scrapes and bruises from a Metrolink train crash in Glendale near downtown Los Angeles that killed 11 people. One woman, bloodied and badly injured, called the Army veteran a "hero" for staying by her side as they waited for emergency crews to arrive.

On Friday, the unthinkable happened. Lintner, 48, was once again caught in a deadly Metrolink accident. This time, he was among the 25 people killed when their commuter train collided head-on with a Union Pacific freight train.

"Last time, my husband came back," his wife, Michelle, said in an interview Monday in her native Korean, her eyes red from sobbing. "It doesn't make sense that I can't touch him anymore."

At least three people who survived the Glendale crash in 2005 were on Metrolink 111 when it crashed Friday afternoon.

Willie Castro, 67, of Simi Valley made a vow to himself after living through the 2005 crash:

"I said after that, 'I am never going to ride the train again.' "

But there he was last week, sitting not far from the wreck after two men carried him out of the train.

Richard Myles, 58, a supervisor with the Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation, had been more sanguine.

"I thought, 'That'll never happen again,' " he said as he recovered from surgery at a Los Angeles hospital.

Still, he bargained with fate, trying to make sure he always sat in the last car, which he thought would be safer — a practice he broke last week because the train was too crowded.

Lintner closely followed the criminal trial of the man who caused the Glendale accident by parking his truck on the railroad tracks. Lintner couldn't put it behind him, his family said.

"He told me he never got off that train," Michelle Lintner said.

He carried with him a newspaper clipping with a photo of Juan Manuel Alvarez, the man convicted of first-degree murder for causing the crash.

First a hero, then a victim 09/16/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 5:15pm]
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