Wrong-Way Driver Killed In Crash With Light Rail Train In Downtown Phoenix

Published: Wednesday, December 25, 2019 - 6:56am
Updated: Wednesday, December 25, 2019 - 6:58am

A Valley Metro light rail train derailed during a fatal crash early Sunday with a wrong-way driver. 

The driver of a 2016 Nissan Sentra was driving the wrong way on Washington Street in downtown Phoenix when she collided with a light rail train headed south on 1st Avenue. The train was knocked from the tracks into a traffic light pole.

The driver, 30-year-old Tameka Talise Spence, was a community organizer for the Arizona Coalition for Change, which worked to encourage participation in the 2020 Census.

“Tameka is one of the nicest people that you could ever meet,” executive director Reginald Bolding told the Arizona Republic. “She also was one of the smartest individuals who you would encounter."

The operator of the train and two passengers were uninjured.

Service on the line was impacted, and the train car was seriously damaged.

In a typical light rail accident, damage to the train is usually minor and cosmetic. This case is different, according to Valley Metro spokesperson Julie Tierney. Derailments cause much more extensive damage to the train cars, and the force can even bend the tracks. 

“It was much more extensive than is typical,” Tierney said. “Any time there’s a collision involving a train, there’s a full inspection that’s done onsite. We take a look at the wheels, the brakes, the bumper, the paint. we want to take a look at any possible damage before we put it back in service.”

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