By Christopher Brewer / firstname.lastname@example.org /
Two people escaped with their lives after an Amtrak train hit their pickup truck in a Centralia neighborhood Monday afternoon.
According to Capt. Casey McCarthy with the Riverside Fire Authority, fire crews were dispatched to the intersection of Summa Street and Tower Avenue just south of downtown Centralia at 3:43 p.m. Firefighters arrived at the scene, at which the pickup had come to rest on a crossing arm system. The Amtrak train that hit the pickup was stopped about a half-block south of where the impact took place, McCarthy said.
A man and woman inside the truck sustained minor injuries. McCarthy said the man had left the scene on foot, only to be picked up from his home by police and taken to Providence Centralia Hospital. An ambulance took the woman involved in the collision to Providence for evaluation.
Witnesses say the pair in the pickup had tried to cross the tracks despite the gates being down.
Centralia Police Officer Patti Finch said the woman driving the vehicle had weaved around the crossing gate that had come down. As a result, the woman was cited for reckless endangerment. Police arrested the male passenger on a warrant as well, and also cited the woman for third-degree driving while license suspended.
Ken Peck, who lives close to the railroad crossing, said it appeared that the pickup had avoided a BNSF train headed northbound before it was struck by the Amtrak train headed south. He said he was the first on the scene after hearing the impact.
“I got out and told my buddy to get out and help, call 911,” Peck said. “We told the woman she might be in shock.”
The collision detached a gate of the railroad crossing at Summa Street. When an Amtrak train rolled through at 5:18 p.m., a crew member came off the train and manually stopped traffic before the train proceeded through.
Another neighbor, Penny Martin, told The Chronicle she sees vehicles dodge the crossing arms often. She says people too often see the crossing gates come down but see no train, and try to barrel through the crossing anyway.
“People get complacent,” Martin said.