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2 trains struck by vehicles in separate Central Valley accidents

In the first accident, dozens are injured when an Amtrak train is struck by a big rig near Hanford, Calif. Later, a freight train on a different set of tracks is hit by another big rig.

October 01, 2012|By Corina Knoll, Los Angeles Times
  • Emergency personnel respond to the scene of a train derailment near the Central Valley farming town of Hanford. Authorities say 20 to 50 passengers suffered minor to moderate injuries when a big rig collided with a southbound Amtrak train. Later, in an unrelated accident a few miles away, a freight train was struck by another big rig, seriously injuring the truck driver.
Emergency personnel respond to the scene of a train derailment near the… (Gary Kazanjian, Fresno…)

In unrelated accidents, two trains were struck by vehicles within 10 miles and a few hours of each other in the Central Valley on Monday, authorities said.

In the first accident, dozens of passengers suffered minor to moderate injuries when a big rig carrying cotton gin trash collided with an Amtrak train.

On what Amtrak calls the San Joaquin Route — which runs between the Bay Area and Bakersfield — a train carrying about 170 passengers had just left the Hanford station about 12:20 p.m. when the big rig heading west on Kansas Avenue failed to stop at the crossing and plowed into its side, said California Highway Patrol Officer Scott Jobinger.

The train, which had three passenger cars, went off the tracks and continued for about 600 feet.

"From what I can tell, the engine was at the rear end of the train and it derailed and was basically overturned," Jobinger said. "The other three cars are in various stages of leaning from 20 to 45 degrees."

Authorities estimated between 20 and 50 people suffered bumps, bruises and scrapes. Some were treated at the scene and others were transported to local hospitals. Remaining passengers were taken to Hanford's civic center to be picked up by family members or friends. Amtrak arranged a bus to take others to their destinations.

The truck driver, Macario Medina, 32, of McFarland, sustained moderate injuries and was taken to a Hanford medical center. There was no indication at the time that Medina was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, Jobinger said. The Kings County Sheriff's Department and the Hanford Police Department responded to the scene and an investigation was underway.

About three hours later, a freight train on a different set of tracks was hit by a big rig just east of Hanford on Grangeville Boulevard, Jobinger said.

According to initial reports, that truck driver suffered major injuries, including a head laceration A Medevac helicopter was present, but it was not known whether the driver was airlifted from the scene. The train did not derail. Authorities did not say what either the train or big rig was carrying.

Authorities said they had no reason to believe the crashes were related.

"It just so happens it's one of those fluke occurrences," Jobinger said.

corina.knoll@latimes.com

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