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Train collides with vehicle at California intersection without crossing arms, killing three

By Stella Chan and Eric Levenson, CNN

An Amtrak train passing through an intersection without crossing gates in rural Brentwood, California, collided with a passenger vehicle, killing three people and causing major injuries to two others on Sunday, according to officials.

All five victims were in the vehicle and were attending an event near the train route, said East Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Marshal Steve Aubert. The two people injured, an adult and a child, were airlifted to local hospitals and sustained major injuries, he said.

Amtrak said the crash on train 713 occurred at about 1 p.m. PT and that none of the 89 passengers or crew on board were injured. The train was delayed about three hours while authorities investigated, the company said.

Aerial video of the scene from CNN affiliate KPIX shows a crumpled silver vehicle at rest near the train tracks. The crash occurred at a crossing with a stop sign on each side of the road but no gate arms that would warn of an oncoming train, the video shows.

Aubert said this wasn’t the first crash at that same crossing.

“It’s in the rural part of our district, so it’s a lot more farmland out there,” he said. “There are no crossing arms, there are no signals at that crossover, and it’s not the first accident that we’ve been to at that same spot. Trains are allowed to go up to 80 miles-per-hour along that stretch so it doesn’t take long for a train to catch up right at that crossing there.”

The railroad company BNSF, which owns the track, is investigating the incident and says the line is currently open to train traffic.

The collision came a day before a similar crash in Missouri between an Amtrak train and a dump truck caused the train to derail, leaving three people dead and dozens injured. That intersection was also “uncontrolled,” meaning there were no lights or mechanized arms, according to preliminary reports.

In a statement, Amtrak noted that trespassing on railroad rights-of-way is the leading cause of rail-related deaths.

“These incidents can affect everyone involved — those who are injured or die and their families, our train crews, and our passengers,” the company said. “They also serve as critical reminders about the importance of obeying the law and of exercising extreme caution around railroad tracks and crossings.”

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