Unlikely casualty in Metrolink train crash

So much for honesty in government.

One of the most compelling stories this week involves the tale of Metrolink spokeswoman Denise Tyrrell, who asked the agency's chief executive if she could be “upfront about what happened'' in the wake of a Los Angeles commuter train crash that killed 26 people.

The day after the crash, she was in a conference call with agency officials and advised them “to get in front'' of the situation. She told the Los Angeles Times that “when you have loss of life, spinning is unacceptable.'' And at a press conference she was even more forthright, saying that it appeared the crash was the result of an engineer's error.

“When two trains are in the same place at the same time, somebody's made an awful mistake,'' she said.

Today, Tyrrell is the former Metrolink spokeswoman. She resigned after being heavily criticized by agency officials and investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board for her candor in addressing the probable cause of the catastrophe. She said the damage to her reputation was too great.

And now, because of the situation, state and county officials are already suggesting that the Metrolink board should rethink its position and reconsider her resignation.

It should be noted the NTSB has confirmed that the Metrolink engineer ran through a red signal, leading to the collision. Tyrrell's statements were correct.

And now her actions are a big part of the story.

I guess we should be resigned to the fact that most public relations people aren't hired for the public good. But in press circles — and certainly for the families of the victims killed in the crash — Tyrrell is being hailed as a hero.

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