Amtrak train strikes minivan near Bakersfield

The Associated Press
Thursday December 13, 2001

SHAFTER — Seven people were killed when a minivan collided with an Amtrak train on Wednesday near Bakersfield, authorities said. 

Two people were ejected from the minivan and five others were found dead inside the vehicle, which was pushed about a half-mile down the tracks, said Officer Greg Williams, a California Highway Patrol spokesman. 

The victims’ names were not immediately released. 

Amtrak 714 en route from Oakland to Bakersfield collided with the Ford Aerostar around 4 p.m., said Vernae Graham, an Amtrak spokeswoman. 

The collision, which took place on a section of railroad with only one set of tracks, delayed two other Amtrak trains. They were being held Wednesday night at a site near the crash while authorities investigated the crash. 

Officials said they hoped to have the rail line reopened by Thursday morning. 

The cause of the collision was under investigation, but authorities said the warning lights and bells were working at the crossing. 

“We don’t know if the driver tried to beat the train or flat didn’t see it,” Williams said. 

None of the 70 passengers and crew members on the train were injured. 

The train was traveling about 79 mph at the time of the collision near Highway 43 in Shafter, a small town about 16 miles northwest of Bakersfield. 

The passengers remained on the train immediately after the crash and were later taken by bus to Bakersfield.