Littlerock residents derailed by train accident
Forced to evacuate, they were happy to return home
Littlerock is known as the fruit basket of the Antelope Valley, because of the plentiful fruit grown in the area—apples, pears, peaches, strawberries. But last week the small community made national headlines for another reason. It was the scene of a massive train derailment.
Area residents were evacuated Wednesday afternoon, but allowed to return home early Thursday morning following the accident.
The 62-car freight train derailed at 92nd Street East near Avenue T. Twenty-two cars left the track, 14 of them carrying a hazardous chemical. Initially, roads in the immediate area were closed to through traffic. When officials from Union Pacific and the Los Angeles County Fire Department hazardous materials team arrived, they issued a precautionary mandatory evacuation order around 4 p.m.
The evacuation affected about 250 homes, according to reports. Sheriff’s officers drove through the neighborhood using their loudspeakers to notify residents of the evacuation order, as the area between 87th Street East and 106th Street East, and between Avenue S and Avenue T was locked down. Residents who were not at home at the time of the order were not permitted to return to their homes unless they were picking up an elderly person or child dependent, and then only with a sheriff escort.
Littlerock resident James Brooks was near Jackie Robinson Park at the time of the mishap. Curious about the large cloud of dust thrown up by the overturned rail cars, which he described as “look(ing) like the Arizona dust storm,” he went to investigate. Brooks said some of the cars on the tracks were still coming to a stop when he arrived. Surveying the unusual scene, he likened the huge, overturned rail cars to “a big, dead dinosaur.”
Brooks then continued into town and did not learn about the evacuation until later. By then, local hotels were filling up. He did eventually find lodging in a Palmdale hotel, which generously offered a discount to residents displaced by the evacuation order.
An Associated Press report quoted Los Angeles County Fire Inspector Matt Levesque as saying the tankers involved “had residual chlorine and hydrogen fluoride,” but no leaks were found. L.A. Fire Deputy Chief Mike Metro said the tanker cars are designed to withstand a derailment by having the wheel carriage separate from the tank itself. “They’re designed to take a hit like they took today, and that’s why we didn’t have a leak.”
The all-clear was given at 3 a.m. Thursday. Many residents, anxious to return to their homes, left the shelter at Almondale Middle School as soon as the order was lifted.
The tracks were cleared and repaired by Thursday afternoon, with trains able to resume use at a slow speed. Union Pacific crews had worked all night to restore service on the line. The remaining cars that could not be righted were also removed.
It was still unknown what caused the train to derail, although several spikes that secure the railroad ties to the rails in that area had been observed to be loose or missing.
The A.V. community showed up hungry and in a festive mood for the annual Juneteenth celebration at Jackie Robinson Park in Sun Village last weekend. Presented by Friends of Jackie Robinson Park and Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation, the event was billed as a “weekend of unity, sun, music, faith, food, and love.”
The light has come to Sun Village! OK, it’s a traffic light, but still. And it has not actually arrived yet, but it’s on the way.
The traffic signal will be installed at the corner of 90th Street East and Avenue R, where Jackie Robinson Park is located.
Arguably the heart of Sun Village, the park boasts a community recreation building, children’s play areas, picnic areas and a gymnasium. Dozens of public events are held at the park throughout the year, along with various after-school functions and youth and adult sports programs.
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — In light of a 63-year-old woman being mauled to death by pit bulls in the high desert community of Littlerock, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors today asked staffers today to evaluate a proposed change in the county’s definition of a dangerous dog.
Supervisor Michael Antonovich, who said “four killer pit bulls” attacked Pamela Devitt, called for the change.
LITTLEROCK, Calif. — An investigation was underway today into the death of a 63-year-old woman who was mauled by pit bulls as she jogged in Littlerock, near Palmdale.
The woman, identified by the county coroner’s office as Pamela Devitt of Littlerock, was attacked about 9:30 a.m. Thursday near 116th Street East and Avenue S, authorities said.
Supervisor Mike Antonovich said in a statement that “four killer pit bulls” mauled Devitt.
PALMDALE, Calif. — A man was killed today in a two-vehicle crash in the Littlerock area near Palmdale, authorities said.
The crash occurred at about 4:30 a.m. on Avenue T at Dunford Avenue, according to the California Highway Patrol.
According to the preliminary investigation, Jose Olivarez, 41, of Littlerock, was driving a 1998 Plymouth Voyager east on Avenue T when he turned left at Dunford Avenue “directly into the path of a westbound 2006 Chrysler,” the CHP said in a statement.