SANTA FE SPRINGS (CBSLA.com) — Authorities said a freight train struck an unoccupied SUV in
Santa Fe Springs Thursday evening.
There were no reports of injuries.
The SUV was only unoccupied because firefighters were able to pull the driver to safety moments before impact.
CBS’s Stacey Butler said the SUV rolled over and crashed onto the tracks as the train was bearing down.
Firefighters, meanwhile, were also trying to stop the train before impact.
The BNSF train struck the car about 5:35 p.m. in the area of Marquardt and Rosecrans Avenues, according to reports from the scene.
Butler said the woman’s GPS told her to do a U-turn. She got disoriented. Her SUV ended up banked up on train tracks.
Video taken by passerby Sam Hyde showed the train — going full speed — plowing into the SUV.
It was a miracle that the driver was not hurt. Nor were drivers waiting in the vicinity of the tracks.
Butler was told the disoriented driver had no idea she was stuck on railroad tracks.
The woman’s car was completely destroyed. After being slammed and dragged by the train about 50 feet, it also slammed into a tree.
Butler spoke to the firefighters — Stan Maloof and Randy Duarte — who rescued the 30-something driver who is from Thousand Oaks and unfamiliar with Sante Fe Springs.
They were on their way to another call when they said they happened upon something they couldn’t ignore — the driver on the tracks.
“We came up to the railroad tracks and I noticed a carhad turned into n an odd direction. It caught my eye as I looked back I saw her bounce up over the railroad tracks and get stuck, says Maloof.
“At first, I asked her if she was okay. She said yes, she was just lost and trying to get where she needed to be. I said, you need to get out of the car. We are on railroad tracks.”
As Maloof convinced the driver that getting out of the car, Duarte was calling LA dispatch and tried to get them to stop the train immediately.
As Duarte was finishing up the call, they could see the train in the distance.
“You could see white light [of the train] coming and the rail lights pon the gates went down],” Duarte says.
Half a minute later, the train slammed into the empty vehicle. When the driver realized how close she came to certain death, she thanked the firefighters for saving her life. And then she collapsed on the side of the road.
“We were in the right place at the right time for her,” says Maloof. “It was just amazing we happened to be driving by at the moment when she happened to get stuck.”