updated 12/7/2007 11:24:39 PM ET 2007-12-08T04:24:39

A van whose driver disregarded a warning signal at a train crossing was hit by a freight train, killing three and critically injuring another, police said.

The driver was the only occupant of the van to survive and was hospitalized in critical condition Thursday night. By Friday he was in fair condition in the medical ward of the Harris County Jail on bonds totaling $105,000, said sheriff's Lt. John Martin.

The 25-year-old driver was charged with three counts of manslaughter. The driver steered around a crossing arm to beat the train, authorities said.

"This is about as reckless as you get," Harris County Deputy Jeremy Thomas told the Houston Chronicle. "In an accident like this, with the recklessness of his actions, this is the most appropriate charge."

The van's driver allegedly followed another car that also ignored the signal.

"Apparently whoever was driving the van thought it was safe to continue across the tracks," Martin told The Associated Press. "They just followed the car and then got hit by the train."

There were no reports of injuries on the Union Pacific train, which was hauling freight though the suburb north of Houston.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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