Amtrak Train Hits Pickup Truck, Killing Seven Farm Workers
Jun. 08, 1995
NYSSA, Ore. (AP) _ An Amtrak train slammed into a pickup truck Thursday, killing a family of seven farm workers on their way to work in an onion field.
The train, traveling at about 70 mph, tore the pickup in two, scattering debris and bodies for one mile, witnesses said. There were no survivors.
The rural railroad crossing was marked only by a stop sign. The driver of the truck, Sylvestre Perez, slowed as he approached the crossing, then apparently tried to beat the approaching train, Union Pacific spokesman Ed Trandahl said.
None of the 165 passengers or 13 crew members aboard the westbound Pioneer from Chicago was injured in the accident about 5:30 a.m., said Amtrak spokeswoman Dawn Soper from Los Angeles.
The pickup was in a line of vehicles carrying about 40 farm workers to the nearby field, said Amador Lopez, the crew foreman. Lopez, who was in the lead vehicle, said he had crossed the tracks, then noticed the approaching train.
``It was daylight. I could see the train coming,'' said Lopez, who was about two-thirds of a mile away when the train hit the pickup. ``I saw the train carry half the truck.''
The crash occurred about two miles from Nyssa, a farming town on the Idaho line. The sky was clear when the accident took place.
The victims were identified as Perez, 47; his two daughters, Lidia, 23, and Cecilia, 20; his sister, Sofia, 49; his nephew, Victorino Trinidad, 28; Lidia's husband, Bernebe Ayala, no age available; and Sofia's husband, Jose Luis Joaquin, 42.
The family, originally from the Mexican state of Guerrero, had lived in the Nyssa area for about seven years.
The train was delayed about three hours before proceeding to Portland and Seattle.
Lopez said the crossing should have been marked with lights or crossbars.
``It's only a lonely country road ... but you have lots of migrant workers going over these crossings,'' he said.