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Angels Flight derailment under investigation

September 5, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
It's known as the shortest railway in America, but that doesn't mean Angels Flight is immune to problems. On Thursday, one of the two tiny railcars that go up and down a 300-foot stretch came off the tracks, and that has some riders worried.

"It would be a shame if they use this as a reason to close it down," said Patrick Grover, who uses Angels Flight to get up to the top of Bunker Hill.

Angels Flight is located on Bunker Hill between Hill and Olive streets. The tourist attraction is also a practical means of getting up the hill without having to use the stairs.

But Grover remembers a tragic accident in 2001 when one of the rail cars broke loose and crashed into another car. An 83-year-old man died as a result and seven others were injured. The rail line was closed for nine years.

It finally reopened in 2010, but it was shut down again for a month after state inspectors found problems with the wheels.

Investigators with the California Public Utilities Commission are trying to figure out what caused Thursday's derailment. It's unknown when the rail line will reopen. For now, the affected railcar is pitched at an angle.