Sunday, September 14, 2008

Local killed in L.A. train wreck


Santa Barbara yoga instructor Manuel Macias was killed on Friday when the MetroLink commuter train he was riding on crashed into an oncoming freight train near Los Angles. He was 31.
Another 24 passengers were also killed and 135 were injured.
The crash, which occurred in the Los Angeles suburb of Chatsworth, was the worst U.S. rail tragedy since 1999.

Macias, an ex-U.S. marine, regularly commuted to the Los Angeles area to teach yoga classes at the local Gay and Lesbian Center.
According to Tyrrell, the engineer, who was not identified, worked for a subcontractor used by Metrolink. He was believed to have died in the crash. Fellow yoga instructor at Source Yoga Studio in Santa Barbara, Nicole Inglish, described Macias as not only a co-worker, but a member of her family.
“Manuel was an amazing teacher and an amazing person,” Inglish said. “Our relationship was professional, but he was also my family. The yoga business is a little bit different than standard businesses.”
Macias was well-known in the local yoga community for teaching a dynamic, light-hearted Vinyasa flow, a style of yoga in which certain poses flow from one to another in conjunction with one’s breath. The practice is intended to be grounded in intelligent sequencing, with steady attention to breathing and energetic alignment.
“When someone is your yoga teacher, it’s like your first grade teacher. The way you felt about your elementary school teacher, that’s what its like,” Inglish explained. “It is a very heart opening and personal experience. And you feel so much love. Manuel will be missed by a lot of people.”
The studio hill hold a gathering today at noon at the Source Yoga Studio for Macias and will dedicate have a moment of silence in his honor. The studio is located at 1911 De La Vina, Suite G, behind Wash-4-Less.
Macias was known to approach teaching yoga in an exploratory and experiential manner, according to his colleagues at Source Yoga Studio. His classes incorporated core work, heat-building movement, deep stretch sequences, foundation (hand/foot) placement, and moving music and encouraged participants to practice mindfulness during his classes.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Macias’s sister Melissa Grisales described a young man of unbelievable character and imbedded desire to give back to the community in any way he could.
“Anyone he came in contact with, he touched them in some way or another, always positive,” Grisales told the Los Angeles Times. “He really knew how to live life, really knew how to have fun. I always admired him for that.”
The force of the crash pushed the locomotive engine pulling the commuter train backward into a passenger car, and both toppled over, igniting in flames. At least seven cars from the freight train derailed, although most remained standing across the tracks.
Both trains were traveling at about 40 miles per hour, according to Tyrrell.
According to the Associated Press, a teenager told CBS2-TV that he had exchanged a brief text message with the engineer shortly before the crash. The Los Angeles station said the teen was among a group of youths who befriended the engineer and asked him questions about his work. The station showed an interview of the teen holding a cell phone with a text message apparently signed by the engineer and dated 4:22 p.m. Friday, shortly before the crash.
Metrolink spokeswoman Denise Tyrrell said before the report aired that she would find it "unbelievable" that an engineer would be text messaging while operating a train.
In addition to his classes taught at Source Yoga, Macias also taught special yoga courses to senior citizens and offered free classes around town. He was scheduled to teach a free lesson at Lululemon Athletica yesterday, according to hiring manager Yoni Berk.
A Santa Barbara yoga instructor, Berk said Macias was a well-respected member of the local yoga community, highlighting the serene nature of his classes.
“He was an ex-U.S. marine who became a yoga teacher, teaching at the first yoga studio in Santa Barbara, Source Yoga,” Berk said. “He was known to lead a very mellow and open class and will be missed greatly.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Manuel, you will forever be in our hearts. We knew you for a very short time, but your spirit and energy was infectious.

Keep a spot warm for us, until we meet again!

Ralph & Shawn