The accident happened on Arboleda near Highway 140 in Merced County. The train crash happened just minutes after another crash involving a big rig and two cars.
The woman who was hit by the train says she had no choice but to stay in her car and pray she would survive.
The damage to the front of Angie Machado's car shows just how close she came to losing her life.
"I thought today was my day," said Machado. "I thought it was."
Machado got stuck on the train tracks as several cars tried to make their way around a traffic crash that happened just minutes earlier. A big rig rear-ended a car, knocking it into a minivan. The truck driver says he tried to stop, but skidded.
"I've never been in an accident in my life," said Victor Gifford. "I'm 54-years-old, my first accident, and it scared me, it scared me bad."
Paramedics treated several patients for minor injuries as authorities started directing traffic. Machado says she was being waved across the tracks when a train came into view.
"As soon as I got over the rail tracks, he put his hand out and stopped us," said Machado. "And the train guard rail started coming down, and I had a car in front of me so all I could do was go backwards."
Machado says the crossing arm came down on top of her BMW, trapping her in place. Someone yelled for her to get out of the car, but Machado felt her only choice was to put it in reverse and hit the gas as she braced for the impact.
"I'm dead. I'm dead, there was no way I was going to make it," said Machado. "And I prayed that I was far enough back, and I was because it took out the whole front end."
Machado managed to walk away from the crash. The only other passenger in the car was her daughter's sick dog, which Machado was taking to the vet at the time of the accident. The dog also escaped unharmed.
Machado and others at the scene raised questions about the safety of this intersection. But the CHP says it's clearly marked, and drivers just need to be aware of stop signs, and also look both ways before crossing any train tracks.