GLENDALE, Calif. – A suicidal man who had second thoughts now faces murder charges for Wednesday's deadly multi-train collision that killed 11 people in a Los Angeles (search) suburb and injured nearly 200, police said.
"A deranged individual that was suicidal took a vehicle and maneuvered it ... onto the tracks. He intended to take his own life, but changed his mind prior to the train striking his vehicle," Glendale Police Chief Randy Adams said.
The driver of the car, Juan Manuel Alvarez (search) of Compton, left his Jeep Cherokee on the railroad tracks, causing a deadly chain reaction. Two commuter trains derailed and landed on their sides, sending passengers flying through the train cars.
The accident left multiple casualties: among the dead was a sheriff's deputy, and more than 180 people were injured, with dozens in critical condition taken to nearby hospitals.
Alvarez was identified by passengers who saw him running away. Police said Alvarez, who turns 26 next month and has a history of suicide attempts and drug arrests, apparently stood by and watched the train collision after abandoning the attempt to take his life.
As he was arrested, he muttered, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry."
Police said he had slit his wrists and stabbed himself before driving onto the tracks, though his wounds were superficial. Glendale police will keep Alvarez, described as "distraught, remorseful, but cooperative," under close supervision.
"There is no terrorism or terrorist act involved," Adams said.
Alvarez's sister-in-law, Maricela Amaya, told Telemundo TV that he had separated from his wife, Carmelita, three months ago. She said the wife got a court order to keep him away, but he had tried to see her and his son.
"He was having problems with drugs and all that and was violent and because of that he separated from her," Amaya said in Spanish. "A few other times he went around as if he wanted to kill himself. I said if you're going to kill yourself, go kill yourself far away. Don't come by here telling that to my sister."
She said he had also threatened suicide in front of his son.
It was the worst rail accident in the United States since March 15, 1999, when an Amtrak train hit a truck and derailed near Bourbonnais, Ill., killing 11 people and injuring more than 100.
Shortly after 6 a.m., a southbound Metrolink (search) commuter train hit Alvarez's SUV, causing five to seven cars to derail. That train fishtailed, and the bottom cars hit a northbound Metrolink train, which also derailed. An empty, idle Union Pacific train was then hit by one of the commuter cars. A small fire erupted, and smoke could be seen wafting over the crash site.
"This is a complete outrage as far as transportation safety is concerned," Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca said in an earlier press conference.
"The people riding these trains deserve better," he said, visibly angry.
Glendale Police Department officials were overseeing the criminal probe into the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board (search) and Federal Railroad Administration were also investigating.
One of the dead passengers was identified as Deputy James Tutino, a 23-year veteran of the Los Angeles County sheriff's department. The identities of the nine others killed were not immediately released.
Survivors Recall 'Nightmare'
The injured described a terrifying jolt to their sleepy morning commutes.
"I heard the train hit something and drag it across the tracks. All of a sudden, the car stopped," one passenger told KTTV. "Some people hit chairs, the seats in front of them — some people were really cut up."
Diane Brady, 56, said the crash was "a complete nightmare."
"I heard a noise. It got louder and louder," Brady said. "And next thing I knew, the train tilted, everyone was screaming and I held onto a pole for dear life. I held on for what seemed like a week and a half. It was a complete nightmare."
Luckier passengers helped the more seriously injured to safety.
"People were in shock. There were people with serious injuries in my car, we paid attention to them first," David Tingle told FOX News.
But to the agony of their loved ones, the fate of a few passengers was still in doubt.
George Touma, 19, of Burbank, said he was called by his mother, who was on one of the Metrolink trains.
"She told me she was bleeding in the head and her arm was really hurting," said Touma, who was searching for her. "I'm really worried because she has vertigo and when I tried to call back she wouldn't answer." He said she told him of hearing "sequential loud noises and then somebody pulled her out of the train while it was burning."
Officials said search and rescue operations were still active, and they would continue going through the train cars until they were certain all on board were out.
"There's always a possibility we'll be able to find someone else who hasn't been accounted for," Glendale Fire Chief Chris Gray said. Winches and other heavy-duty equipment were being brought in to pry apart the larger pieces of wreckage.
In a light rain, firefighters picked through debris and carried injured passengers from the trains to a triage center set up in a nearby parking lot. Employers at a nearby Costco also rushed out to help passengers.
There were 35 ambulances and nearly 300 firefighters on the scene from Los Angeles, Pasadena and Ventura counties, sorting through the twisted wreckage and helping to treat passengers. A Hazmat team was also on the scene.
Dazed passengers, some limping, gathered at a triage center set up in a nearby store, while the injured sprawled on color-coded mats in the parking lot: red for those with severe injuries, green for those less seriously harmed.
Metrolink began service in 1992 and operates seven lines, part of a multibillion-dollar transportation network aimed at reducing pollution and congestion in Southern California.
On Jan. 6, a freight train derailed at Graniteville, S.C., sending up a toxic cloud of chlorine gas from a damaged tank car. Nine people were killed, 250 were injured and thousands were forced to evacuate their homes.
FOX News' Jane Roh, Trace Gallagher and The Associated Press contributed to this report.