BRENTWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Three women killed when an Amtrak commuter train smashed into their car in Northern California were headed to a fundraiser at a vineyard for a Brentwood resident who died less than a week ago.
The crash occurred around 1 p.m. in a rural area near Brentwood, about an hour’s drive southeast of San Francisco, the California Highway Patrol reported.
Two others had major injuries and were transported to a hospital, said Steve Aubert, fire marshal with the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District.
The Amtrak train slammed into the car, sending it careening off a long dirt driveway and into another vehicle. The private train crossing has no railroad crossing gates, lights or signals, the East Bay Times reported.
Aubert said there are signs posted on both sides of the tracks warning of fast-moving trains. He said the trains are allowed to go up to 80 mph (129 kph) through that area.
The deadly crash happened about 300 feet (about 90 meters) from an outdoor fundraiser for the family of a Brentwood resident who died less than a week ago, Fatima Jimenez, who was one of the people there to mourn, told the newspaper.
Jimenez said she ran out of the fundraiser and found two women dead on the ground, along with a bloodied child, and helped pull a man from the wreckage.
“People fainted when they heard what was going on,” Jimenez said. “It was chaotic. There are no words to describe it — I’m still in shock.”
Mitch Bloomfield, who owns the Bloomfield Vineyards property where the fundraiser was held, told the newspaper he installed his own signs on each side of the tracks declaring “TRAINS!!” after repeatedly asking BNSF Railway to install a railroad crossing gate with lights and signals.
“I’ve called BNSF countless times to have them put in a crossing there,” he said. “They make a lot of money but they don’t like to spend it.”
“Hopefully now this is more of an important thing,” he added.
A message to BNSF Railway seeking comment was not immediately answered.