HANFORD – Nearly 50 people were injured on Monday, Oct. 1, near Hanford when a tractor-trailer rig failed to stop at a railroad crossing and struck a south-bound Amtrak train, derailing two passenger cars and a locomotive.
Amtrak’s San Joaquin, consisting of four passenger cars and a locomotive, had just left the Hanford Amtrak station, headed for Bakersfield on the Burlington Northern/Santa Fe (BNSF) track, when it was struck by a west-bound truck loaded with cotton waste at the Kansas Avenue crossing at 12:22 p.m., about 8 miles south of Hanford.Witnesses say the truck locked up its brakes in an attempt to stop, but crashed through the crossing arms and struck the center car of the train, derailing two passenger cars and the locomotive. The warning arms were down, and the train was already in the crossing when the truck collided with it, according to the CHP.
The driver of the semi, Macario Medina, 32, of McFarland, miraculously survived the impact, and was transported to Adventist Medical Center in Hanford with moderate injuries.
The CHP reports that 30-50 passengers sustained minor injuries, mostly bumps and bruises, and were treated on the scene. Some were transported to Adventist Medical Center and Kaweah Delta Medical Center.
A medevac helicopter was available for airlifting those with serious injuries, but was not needed.
The uninjured passengers were transported to the Hanford Civic Center by bus, where they were interviewed and released onto Amtrak commute buses. Some made arrangements to be picked up.
BNSF personnel were on the scene overnight, righting the train and making repairs to the track, says the CHP. They report that the derailed train caused damage to the track for approximately one-half mile south from the scene of the collision.
All train service through the area was suspended, and the track was re-opened at about 7 a.m. Tuesday morning, Oct. 2.
Kansas Avenue is expected to remain closed during the investigation, which is being conducted by the CHP Hanford Area with the assistance of the Kings County Sheriff’s Department.