A woman and five other people, including at least three children, were killed Tuesday after their sport utility vehicle got hit by an Amtrak train when the vehicle got caught on the train tracks in Riverbank, a city 10 miles northeast of Modesto, according to an article published in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Maricruz Corral, 23, was driving five other people in her Chevrolet Tracker when eastbound traffic on Claribel Road slowed, forcing her to stop on the train tracks, said California Patrol Officer Tom Killian. Witnesses told officials that exactly when the SUV was stopped on the tracks, an Amtrak train approached the crossing and the warning gate lowered. Corral attempted to back up off the tracks, but one of the crossing arms hit her rear window and bounced back up, Killian said.
She hesitated for a moment and the vehicle rolled forward onto the tracks. Officials believe Corral panicked and that her foot possibly came off the brake causing the vehicle to roll back on to the tracks. Officials dismissed earlier reports that the incident was a suicide. Officials believe that there were two young boys in car seats in the SUV as well as another young boy and two female passengers in addition to Corral.
Corral has two sons, ages 3 and 6, who were apparently in the car but have not yet been positively identified. The coroner will need to use dental records to identify the passengers. The train was traveling northbound at about 79 miles per hour when it hit the compact sport utility vehicle. The car remained stuck to the front of the engine as the train rolled another 1,900 feet before coming to a stop, he added. Corral was ejected while the other five occupants, who died on impact, were found in the car.
Officials say the intersection where the accident occurred was a busy one. There is no question that this is a huge tragedy for everyone involved. Of course, there are a lot of things we don’t know because the incident is still under investigation. Was there a dangerous condition there that caused the woman to roll toward the tracks? Or is that roadway just badly planned? What are the safeguards that can go into place so that these types of incidents don’t happen at that intersection again? These are all questions that local safety officials should ask. And hopefully they will.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a train accident or auto accident, call Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys at 800-259-6373, for a free consultation.