A Metrolink commuter train slammed into a van at a busy Oxnard intersection early Tuesday, killing the vehicle's driver and snarling traffic for more than two hours.
Archimedes Fernandez Fallejo, 66, of Oxnard died shortly after 6 a.m. when his Plymouth Voyager rolled under the lowering railroad crossing gates and was hit by a train at Gonzalez Road and Oxnard Boulevard, police said.
Fallejo was pronounced dead at the scene. No passengers or crew members on the Los Angeles-bound train were injured, officials said.
Witnesses honked and screamed as the van slowly moved into the train's path as the warning gates were being lowered, Oxnard Police Sgt. Steve Moore said.
One of the crossing arms struck the van, but the driver, seemingly oblivious to the shouted warnings and the train bearing down on him, continued to drive forward, police said.
The train smashed into the right rear of the van, spinning it around and badly mangling the vehicle. The doors were thrown off and its back hatch landed on a sidewalk. The back seat was also blown out by the impact.
The crash occurred near Pacifica High School. Hundreds of students headed to classes witnessed the aftermath.
"We don't know why he crossed the tracks," said Sgt. Ron Whitney, an Oxnard police traffic officer investigating the accident. "Maybe he had a medical emergency or he fell asleep and his foot slipped off the brake. I have seen people try to cheat and beat the arm. I have seen all these scenarios."
Railroad workers said the van had food on the passenger's seat, and the driver may have been eating.
Metrolink spokeswoman Sharon Gavin said the track speed limit in that area is 79 mph. Police said the train was traveling about 60 mph.
The accident shut down traffic on the east side of Oxnard Boulevard for 2 1/2 hours. The train, which was not badly damaged, was not moved for about two hours.
The collision occurred about 10 minutes after the train left its first stop at the new Montalvo station near Ventura.
After the accident, Gavin said, four of the six Metrolink passengers were taken by taxi back to Montalvo and the others took Amtrak or the next Metrolink train to Los Angeles.
"We have not had an accident there before," she said.
Metrolink trains have struck and killed at least two people in Ventura County this year.
In September, a Metrolink train hit a truck at an ungated crossing north of Camarillo, killing the driver. In May, a man was killed when he drove his car around a crossing arm in Simi Valley. And in March, Metrolink trains hit a big-rig in Oxnard and a pickup in Somis. Both drivers survived.