(Fowler, California – August 21, 2013)
Authorities announced the names of four young adult friends killed at the dangerous, unguarded crossing of Jefferson Street and Union Pacific Railroad tracks in the community of Fowler, CA, just southeast of Fresno, CA early Monday morning at about 1:45 A.M.. Also, information regarding the event from which the young entrepreneurs were returning and the now-dashed dreams of a home-based business are surfacing.
The crash site, a public street crossing UPRR tracks at a designated private crossing which had no active, automatic crossing protection whatsoever, and which had nothing more than passive signage to warn drivers of the presence of a railroad crossing but no capability of indicating the approach of trains like the 103 car UPRR one being propelled by three locomotives at 40 mph involved in Monday’s quadruple tragedy. The Jefferson Street/UPRR crossing accommodates 19 trains daily at a top allowable timetable speed of 70 mph.
The five Fresno-area business hopefuls were returning from a seminar in Sanger, CA, where they were looking into setting up a home-based business to market the energy drink, Verve. Police said there was no indication that drugs or alcohol were involved in the tragic crash.
Survivors of the crash victims have learned there was an active video camera installed in the nose of the train’s locomotive, and that investigators are viewing the filmed accident.
Pronounced dead at the scene by the Fresno County Coroner were David Alonzo, Jr., 21, of Pinedale, CA, Angelina Vasquez, 18, and Reuben Fernandez, 20, both of Fresno, Ca. The driver of the 2002 Chevrolet Lumina, Michaela Smith, 19, of Sanger, CA, died later at Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, where the lone survivor of the tragedy, Alexandra Sanchez, 20, was still hospitalized in fair condition Wednesday as she was being treated for major injuries, including numerous fractures.
All the victims were either students, studying for professions such as nursing at Fresno City College, as were the three young women, or employed full-time, as was Reuben Fernandez, who was a mail clerk for the McCormick Barstow Law firm in Fresno. Fernandez was also an active volunteer at the Boys’ & Girls’ Club in Pinedale. An only child, Fernandez was described by his mother, Sandy Gonzales, as “amazing, a shining star, full of life. He was so charming, so witty.”
Fernandez was seated in the rear seat on the driver’s side, and took the full impact of the train’s weight and force. “He didn’t need to suffer. He was a wonderful man,” concluded his mother.
Alonzo, Jr., meanwhile, worked for his father, David Alonzo, Sr., as a floor installer at Allied Linoleum & Carpets Co. in Pinedale, CA, where his tearful father referred to his son as “a beautiful man.”