Just days after a fatal railroad crossing crash in San Leandro CA, police were well into their investigation of what caused the wreck that killed a woman and her three year old daughter.
Vanessa Henriquez, 30, and her 3-year-old daughter, Saidy, were in an SUV that got trapped between railroad crossing arms and several other cars when it was hit by an Amtrak train traveling nearly 80 MPH.
According to local police, the intersection and railroad crossing is unusual because it allows multiple cars to build up between the railroad crossing arms. They noted that even if the driver can see an oncoming train, there is nowhere to go.
As experienced railroad crossing accident lawyers in Virginia, we know that these wrecks can have devastating consequences for the occupants of the vehicle. These accidents happen too often; the Federal Railroad Administration states that railroad crossing crashes happen every 12 minutes, with 9570 accidents occurring in 2009.
There are many reasons that railroad crossing accidents happen, and not all of them are due to driver error. One of the common problems is that the railroad fails to properly maintain the railroad crossing, which leads to vegetation obscuring sight lights.
In other cases, the safety gates may fail, and sometimes a car can get stuck on the tracks. We do not have enough information on the above tragedy to know if that occurred here. If we worked on that case, we would review data from the locomotive cameras, black box data event recorders and signal information to determine if there was any failure on the part of the railroad company.
From what the police stated, it sounds as if the entire design of that intersection could be hazardous, and that fact would also be closely scrutinized by our attorneys if we represented the grieving family.