LEUCADIA, Calif. — A semitrailer carrying eight cars was hit and destroyed Wednesday afternoon by a fast-moving Amtrak train here after the truck "bottomed out" and got stuck in the middle of a railroad crossing.
Six people on the train were slightly injured. They were taken to Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas where they were treated for assorted bumps, bruises and neck strains.
A witness said the truck, which was delivering a car to a couple who had just moved to Leucadia from Michigan, was stuck on the Leucadia Boulevard crossing at U.S. 101 for about 15 minutes.
Dwayne Davidson, 28, a clerk at a nearby store, said he tried to help the driver move the big rig but to no avail.
Davidson said he went back to the store and asked another clerk to call 911. The clerk was told by the emergency dispatcher that "they don't handle minor traffic accidents." The clerk was given another telephone number to call, but it was unclear whether that number was called. A San Diego County sheriff's spokesman said he was not aware of the emergency call.
Davidson said he then used a cellular phone in his car to call authorities. Minutes later, about 4:45 p.m., he saw the lights and heard the bells of the crossing guard mechanism as the San Diego-bound train came into view, its whistle blaring and brakes locked.
As is common on the Los Angeles-to-San-Diego run, the engine was in the rear pushing the passenger cars up front, said Mike Martin, spokesman for Santa Fe railroad.
The train plowed into the semitrailer, sending up a large cloud of dust, cutting the tractor trailer rig in half, launching several of the cars off the trailer.
Martin said the track sustained only minimal damage and that normal operations were expected.