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Train Victim Was Watsonville Woman, 45

Maria Lopez Vasquez died on impact when a train struck the car she was in over the weekend.

A woman was killed and three other people injured — including two children —when a cargo train slammed into a Honda Accord that had stopped on the railroad tracks near Watsonville on Sunday, a California Highway Patrol spokesman said today.

Watsonville resident Maria Lopez Vasquez, 45, a passenger in the Honda, died at the scene.

The driver, a 27-year-old woman, suffered major injuries and was airlifted to Santa Clara County Valley Medical Center in San Jose, CHP spokesman Officer Robert Lehman said.

All three children in the back seat, girls ages 7 and 13 and a 2-year-old boy, were taken to Watsonville Community Hospital for observation after the two girls complained of pain in their right ankles, Lehman said.

The accident was reported at about 3:55 p.m. at a railroad crossing on a private road near Allison Road about a quarter-mile south of San Juan Road, Lehman said.

The driver of the Honda was heading north attempting to cross the tracks when a westbound Union Pacific cargo train hit the car's passenger side, he said.

"It's a private crossing that was not controlled, no gates or lights," Lehman said.

"We're not sure why (the driver) went before the train, whether she was distracted or was not sure how close she was," he said.

The train hit the side of the car where Vasquez was seated and she was pronounced dead at the scene, Lehman said.

The driver, whose name has not been released, suffered cuts to her face and a swollen abdomen, and was flown by air ambulance to Valley Medical.

The three children in the backseat were wearing safety restraints at the time of the crash, and the 2-year-old was not injured. The driver and passenger were also buckled up.

The train engineer, a 60-year-old man, and two male crewmembers ages 44 and 60 also were not injured.

The CHP does not believe that alcohol or drugs played a role in the crash, which is still under investigation, Lehman said.

All of the Honda's occupants were from Watsonville, Lehman said.

Copyright © 2012 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.

alice January 29, 2013 at 12:22 AM
this very very sad it breaks my heart
The family of the late night train January 29, 2013 at 12:47 AM
We will miss you here on the Patch.
HizDesign January 29, 2013 at 01:33 AM
Agreed, Alice. Very sad.
Middle Ground February 01, 2013 at 02:32 AM
It is very sad, and I feel as sad for the other victim, the train engineer, who had no way to avoid someone who drove the car onto the tracks in front of his train.

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