(San Diego, California – August 31, 2012)
Three female occupants of a black Volkswagen Jetta were taken to two different hospitals suffering from serious injured when the jetta became wedged beneath the trailer of an 18-wheeler after the semi was struck by a southbound San Diego “Coaster” commuter train with 160 passengers aboard Friday morning at about 7:40 A.M. at the intersection of West Washington and Southern California Regional Rail Authority tracks in San Diego, CA.
The crossing has overhead flashing lights but no crossing gates, the addition of which might have served to prevent the accident. The trucker, Rafael Navarette, who was hauling a load of fruits and vegetables, said he had a green traffic light, but traffic backed up on West Washington kept him from being able to clear the crossing. He then heard the train coming, but was caught in the traffic gridlock.
Witnesses quickly responded to assisting the injured, all of whom were bleeding excessively. Meanwhile, the same witnesses had their tales of terror to tell.
“As we’re sitting there, in a split second, all of a sudden, Bam! I mean really loud. I thought he was going to be killed,” witness Thomas Brown said of the truck driver. “I thought I was going to be next because I was trapped in the middle. I couldn’t go anywhere.”
Ron Harvey, another witness, said “Thank God it stopped about eight feet before it hit me. Glass was all over my car and I’m shaking like crazy.”
Two of the car’s occupants went to UCSD Medical Center and Scripps Mercy Hospital, where each was admitted with undisclosed injuries. The third was treated at the scene by San Diego Fire-Rescue paramedics. A fourth occupant was uninjured. All four were of the same family.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Office was leading the investigation into the accident.