Amtrak train strikes minivan near Bakersfield, Calif., seven people killed

Thursday, December 13th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SHAFTER, Calif. (AP) _ An Amtrak train struck a minivan as it was crossing the tracks Wednesday, killing seven people in the vehicle, authorities said.

None of the 70 passengers and crew members on the train were injured.

The train was traveling about 79 mph in Shafter, about 16 miles northwest of Bakersfield, when it hit the minivan.

The minivan was pushed about a half-mile down the tracks, said Officer Greg Williams, a California Highway Patrol spokesman. Two people were ejected from the minivan and five others were found dead inside the vehicle, Williams said.

The cause of the collision was under investigation, but authorities said the warning lights and bells were working at the crossing.

``We don't know if the driver tried to beat the train or flat didn't see it,'' Williams said.

The collision delayed two other Amtrak trains for more than five hours. But the accident scene was cleared and service was expected to resume late Wednesday.

The passengers on the train were taken by bus to Bakersfield.