3 people injured in crash involving vintage trolley car

SAN DIEGO – A collision at an East Village intersection sent three people to a hospital Tuesday and banged up a restored World War II-era trolley car that serves as a popular civic showpiece while ferrying commuters over downtown streets.

A van crashed into the vintage red-white-and-green PCC streetcar at Market Street and Park Boulevard shortly before noon, according to police.

Medics took three patients to a trauma center, city spokesman Jose Ysea said. Their conditions were not released, and it was unclear which vehicle they had been in at the time of the crash.

The accident, apparently caused by an illegal turn on the part of the van driver, left the busy road crossing blocked for about an hour.

The impact crumpled one side of the roughly 70-year-old light-rail tram to a “considerable” degree and damaged its pantograph, an apparatus atop the car that connects its locomotion system to an overhead electric line, said Metropolitan Transit System spokesman Rob Schupp.

The mid-20th-century streetcar, one of two operated by the city of San Diego, took about $880,000 — much of it garnered through donations — to painstakingly renovate to its original luster, according to Schupp.

The historic tram will be out of service for months while undergoing repairs, the spokesman said.

MTS officials began running the antique trolley cars on its Silver Line downtown route in 2011. A third old streetcar is being refurbished to augment the nostalgia-inducing service, Schupp said.