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Train strikes SUV, killing 6 in vehicle

An Amtrak train struck a sports utility vehicle on Tuesday at a crossing in Riverbank, Calif., killing five people in the car, officials said.
/ Source: The Associated Press

An Amtrak passenger train collided with a sport utility vehicle that was stopped at a crossing on Tuesday, killing all six people inside the SUV, authorities said.

None of the 70 passengers or crew members aboard the Oakland-bound train was injured, Amtrak spokeswoman Vernae Graham said.

Shortly after 2 p.m., the driver of a Chevrolet Tracker stopped on the tracks before the railroad crossing arms came down, said Steve Mayotte, chief of the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District. She attempted to back up and then drive forward to escape the approaching train, he said.

“When the driver attempted to back up, she hit the railroad arm and she decided at the last minute to try and get across the tracks, and she did not make it,” Mayotte said.

The SUV was dragged more than half a mile down the track after the collision.

“The vehicle is still on the train, wrapped around the front of the engine,” Mayotte said.

One person was ejected from the SUV. All were pronounced dead at the scene, Mayotte said.

The car was driven by a female driver with five young passengers, said California Highway Patrol spokesman Tom Killian. The passengers included two young boys in car seats, another young boy estimated to be between the ages of 6 and 8 and two teenage girls, Killian said.

Officers were interviewing witness to try to determine the sequence of events.

The four-car train was traveling from Bakersfield to Oakland when it collided with the vehicle about nine miles northeast of Modesto. The train’s speed was not immediately known, Graham said.

The passengers boarded another train headed to Modesto, where Amtrak arranged to have buses take them to their destinations, she said.