3 dead after Amtrak train crashes into vehicle in Madera County

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Three men are dead after an Amtrak train rammed into a pick-up truck Friday afternoon in Madera County.

The California Highway Patrol says the driver tried to bypass a stalled train at Avenue 9 and Road 33 and 1/2 when the deadly collision happened.

The men in a white pickup saw a freight stalled at the tracks and drove north to find an alternate crossing.

"I would believe that they presumed there were no trains coming due to the fact there was a stopped train a little ways back," Officer McConnell with the CHP said.

But there was an oncoming train and it collided with the pickup at the dirt crossing sending the vehicle flying into three pieces.

"You can see that the engine block is up in the vineyards, projected about 60 yards from the impact, the transmission was severed from the vehicle," Sgt. Lloyd Pratt with Madera-area CHP described. "So, it was a very violent impact."

Two of the victims were in their 20s while the third was in his 30s.

All were employed at a local farming company and were at work at the time of the crash.

"If you ever approaching an uncontrolled railroad crossing, you need to stop and make absolutely sure it is clear for an extremely long distance left and right," McConnell said.

CHP officers say this is the third accident involving a train to happen in Madera County this year. The other two didn't end in death because the trains were going at a slower speed.

This Amtrak, however, was traveling at 79 miles per hour.

"In this case there are no lights, there are no arms, it is incumbent on the driver to check both ways," Pratt said. "And it doesn't look like that was happening."
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