The Ghost in the Machine
This story is touching and needs no explanation
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Charles Peck, 49 - Photo
September 17, 2008
SIMI VALLEY -- One local family whose loved one died in the Metrolink collision is still questioning something that happened that night.
They got several phone calls from 49-year-old Chuck Peck after the crash. But they now know he died on impact.
Peck's fiancee, Andrea Katz, told KTLA that the first call was to his son in Utah.
"...and he said my dad just called me and I said, what did he say? Is he okay? Where is he? He didn't say anything, the phone rang and it said dad," Peck's fiance Andrea Katz told KTLA.
As firefighters worked to rescue survivors, family members said Peck's cell phone kept calling his son, his brother, his stepmother, his sister and his fiancee.
But when they answered all they heard was static.
And when family members called back, the calls went straight to voice mail.
In all, family members say they received about 35 calls from Peck's cell phone through the night.
Nearly five hours after the crash at 9:08 p.m., Katz received a call.
"We were yelling in the phone, hang in there baby. We're gonna get you out. You're gonna be okay," Katz said.
When the rescue efforts turned to recovery, there was another call, which prompted search crews to trace it. They realized it was coming from the first train so they went back in one last time.
"And they were so excited they had this incredible adrenaline rush at thought that they could possibly go find another survivor... we gave her a description and they spent the next couple of hours looking for him and they did end up finding him and they said that he had died immediately on impact and there was no way he could have been calling us," Katz said.
The calls stopped at 3:28 a.m., about an hour before Peck's body was found.
Katz said the phone calls helped the family get through the night.
"The intellectual side of my brain thinks gee, it was a computer malfunction and then the emotional side of my brain, it was just Chuck letting us know that he knew that we were scared for him and letting us have hope."
Katz said she also finds comfort in knowing she and Peck were happy and that he didn't suffer in the end.
"He died instantly and he didn't suffer and when you love somebody you couldn't ask for a better way for them to leave this life, just happy and excited and didn't see it coming."
Investigators said they may never know how those calls were made because Peck's phone was never found.
They also say his body showed no sign that he lived even for a short time after the crash.