A family-of-four’s Christmas tradition has turned into tragedy after a train collided with their minivan while they were lining up to drive through a neighbourhood attraction.
The incident occurred when the family’s car got stuck on train tacks just a few metres away from the entrance to Christmas Tree Lane in Fresno, California, at 5:30pm Tuesday (local time).
An Amtrak train carrying 50 passengers crashed into the vehicle, sending three family members to hospital with minor injuries, while the fourth passenger, a child, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Authorities have not released the age, gender or name of the child. The mother of the child was in the vehicle.
Stunned witnesses waiting to see the popular Christmas lights on the event’s opening night have shared their shock after watching the incident.
“Right when I was at the lights I thought someone is going to get hit on the train tacks and sure enough I heard the train, then I heard a boom,” Graciela Galindo told ABC 30.
The annual attraction is reportedly known for congested traffic and heavy crowds each year.
Ms Galindo said she saw police officers at the entrance to Christmas Tree Lane but none were stationed near the train tracks to warn drivers not to stop on them.
“It’s a pretty big problem, everyone was stopping on the tracks,” she told ABC 30.
None of the train passengers were injured.
Investigators are currently trying to determine how the van became stuck on the tracks.
Local website fresnobe.com reports that the event usually attracts thousands of people on foot but this year due to coronavirus visitors were asked to stay in their vehicles.
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