Metro Transit investigating fatal train-car crash

The driver of a car struck by a light rail train in St. Paul on Saturday has died and investigators are looking at the train's role in the crash.

Metro Transit police say Nicholas Westlake, 29, of St. Paul, was driving through a University Avenue intersection near Highway 280 just after 9 p.m. on Saturday, when a westbound train hit his car.

St. Paul firefighters had to extract Westlake from the damaged vehicle. He was taken to Regions Hospital and died there Monday, Metro Transit said.

A woman passenger was also injured. Neli Petkova was treated and released at Regions.

"This is news we never want to have to give," said Metro Transit police chief John Harrington in a statement released about the crash Wednesday.

The crash remains under investigation by the Metro Transit crash reconstruction team. Investigators are still reviewing video of the collision, but Harrington also said his agency plans to present the case to the Ramsey County Attorney's Office to review for potential criminal charges when the investigation wraps up.

The train operator, a 12-year Metro Transit employee, is on standard administrative leave.

"The hearts of everyone here at Metro Transit and the Metropolitan Council go out to Nicholas's family and friends," the transit agency's head, Brian Lamb, said in the statement. "We grieve with them and offer our sincerest condolences."