Saturday, October 15, 2011

Phone Calls from Beyond

In September of 2008 a commuter train carrying 225 passengers collided with a freight train in California’s San Fernando Valley. 135 people were injured in this crash 86 people were rushed to local hospitals, 25 people died. 

One of the deceased passengers was a 46-year old man by the name of Charles E. Peck who lived in Salt Lake City. Peck was traveling to California for a job interview because he wanted to move closer to his fiancé. The two planned to wed as soon as they lived in the same state. This was to be Peck’s second marriage; he had two grown children.

His fiancé, accompanied by Peck’s parents and siblings were driving to the train station to pick him up when they heard about the crash. Peck’s body was not recovered from the wreckage until 12 hours after the accident. For the first eleven hours of the 12 his cell phone placed call after call to his various family members. 

His son, his brother, his stepmother, his sister, and his fiancé all received calls. When they picked up their phones all they heard was static: when they attempted to call Peck back their calls went directly to voice mail.

These calls gave his family hope that he was still alive but possibly trapped somewhere in the wreckage. This barrage of calls prompted search crews to trace the whereabouts of the phone through its signal and to look through what was left of the first train, the location the calls came from. The searches finally found Peck’s body about an hour after his phone calls stopped.

It was determined that Charles Peck died on impact but long after his death, his cell phone continued to call the people he cared about. This cell phone, which led rescuers to his body, was never found.

The crash that killed Peck became known as the Chatsworth crash, it was the deadliest in Metrolink’s history. 

It was determined that the commuter train engineer failed to heed a red signal light, instead he continued on a track that a Pacific freight train coming from the opposite direction had been given the right of way for. 

Tragically, it was another cell phone that caused the crash, the National Transportation Safety board found that the Metrolink engineer was texting messages as his train left the station and that he continued to text messages—the last one he sent was just 22 seconds before the collision.

Here is a news report with Charles Peck's fiancé talking about these phone calls.

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