(Guadalupe, California — April 18, 2012)
Antonio Garcia Ortiz, the father of a one-year-old, coming to a California lettuce field to pick up his wife from work, was killed instantly and his daughter died of her massive injuries at the Marian Medical Center in Santa Maria, CA Wednesday night after the white compact sedan they were in was hit, demolished and flung a considerable distance by Amtrak’s Los Angeles, CA-bound "Coast Daylight" about 4:19 P.M. Wednesday afternoon at a dangerous, unguarded rural Union Pacific Railroad crossing near Guadalupe, CA.
Even though an average of 14 trains, including two Amtrak trains, traverse the dirt road crossing daily at speeds of 60 to 70 mph, the intersection is "protected" only by passive signage and has no automatic devices such as flashing lights, bells or crossing gates to help prevent tragedies such as occurred Wednesday.
It was not known if the victim’s wife (the infant’s mother) actually witnessed the tragedy, but she immediately followed the ambulance carrying her daughter to the hospital for treatment of her injuries. Mr. Ortiz was pronounced dead at the scene.
Because it appeared to some that the victim had backed his car onto the tracks, unsympathetic speculators tried to claim the tragedy a suicide, something that was quickly dismissed by Ortiz’ cousin, Gabriel Vasquez, who said the tragedy was just a "horrible accident." "Sometimes field workers even forget about the trains," said Vasquez, “Ortiz was a good husband and father and a devout churchgoer who would never consider suicide.”
The California Highway Patrol, CALFIRE, Guadalupe Fire and Police Departments and the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office, who said the tragedy was being investigated as an accident, all responded to the tragedy.