4 Nov 2012

Melbourne level crossing crash leaves one dead

12:48 pm on 4 November 2012

Police have questioned a truck driver after his rig smashed into a passenger train at a level crossing in Melbourne, leaving a man dead and 13 other people injured.

Police say the truck crashed through a lowered boom gate and into the path of the six-carriage metro service at the Abbotts Rd crossing in Dandenong South at 11.42am on Saturday, AAP reports.

The train, travelling towards Cranbourne with 30 passengers on board, struck the trailer of the southeast bound truck, which was loaded with vegetables, causing it's front carriage to jackknife, derail and overturn. Other carriages also tipped, with all coming to rest beside the tracks.

Detective Inspector Maurice Lynn said a 30-year-old man was found under a metre and a half of rubble in a front carriage suffering cardiac arrest following the collision. He was uncovered and paramedics treated him but he died at the scene.

About a dozen passengers were taken to nearby hospitals, mainly suffering cuts and bruises, police said.

The driver of the train was trapped in his crumpled cabin for more than an hour before rescue crews could release him.

Paramedics gave him fluids and oxygen until he was freed, then took him to The Alfred Hospital in a serious but stable condition suffering lower body injuries.

Police have ordered cranes to lift carriages and will scour the scene for other survivors.

Assistant police commissioner Robert Hill, speaking at the scene, said the lights and gate were operating correctly when the crash happened.

The 59-year-old truck driver, of Narre Warren North, was being questioned late on Saturday by Major Collision Investigation Unit detectives.

Paramedics said it was remarkable he escaped the smash with no physical injuries.

Detective Sergeant Rohan Courtis said the truck driver had been co-operative with police, who seized his mobile phone for examination and took a sample of his blood.

"He is pretty upset in relation to what has happened... he has offered an explanation to some degree about what happened," Det Sgt Courtis told reporters, adding the driver was released pending summons.