An engineer intentionally drove his train at high speed and derailed it in an attempt to hit the U.S. Navy hospital ship Mercy docked in Los Angeles, federal prosecutors said.
The Pacific Harbor Line train careened off the tracks Tuesday, crashing through concrete barriers and slamming to a halt about 250 yards from the medical vessel, authorities said.
Engineer Eduardo Moreno, 44, of San Pedro, intended to slam into the Mercy, and told investigators he considered it "suspicious" and didn't believe "the ship is what they say it's for," according to a complaint filed by prosecutors.
Prosecutors say he allegedly told a California Highway Patrol officer, "You only get this chance once. The whole world is watching. I had to. People don't know what's going on here. Now they will."
Video from inside the locomotive showed Moreno holding a lighted flare during the derailment, authorities said.
Moreno has been charged with train wrecking, an obscure federal violation, by the U.S. Attorney's Office. It carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.
The Mercy arrived March 27 at the Los Angeles port. The massive floating hospital was sent to treat non-coronavirus patients to free up local medical centers deluged with the infected. It will remain there for as long as it is needed.