Three killed after van and train collide in Kalamazoo Co.

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OSHTEMO TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- Three people were killed Tuesday after a van and a train collided in Oshtemo Township.

According to the Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Department, 11th Street was shut down at KL Avenue after the fatal crash.

The crash happened at approximately 4:30 p.m., sheriff's department officials said.  Michigan State Police and the Oshtemo Fire Department were on scene investigating for nearly four hours.

The victims, including the driver, are believed to be in their late teens or early twenties, according to police. Investigators were able to ID the victims and contact families, but had not publicly released their names as of Tuesday evening.

Danielle Schuring, who was three cars back from the railroad crossing when the crash happened, watched as the van approached the tracks, but never stopped.

"It was just breathtaking, it shocked me," Schuring said.

"It went around the barrier and when (the driver) went around I happened to see the train and I said 'man I don't think he's going to make it' and then next thing I know I hear a big loud pop."

Schuring described seeing a tire fly through the air, hitting overhead power lines and starting a fire.

"I just can't fathom what the families are going through," she said.

The impact dragged the van nearly a mile down the track before stopping. The van was nearly unrecognizable following the crash.

Travelling at speeds in excess of 80-110 mph, investigators said there was no way the train's operator could've reacted quickly enough to stop the train to avoid the accident.

"We just don't know a reason, it appears there were other vehicles stopped and this van went around those gates and on the tracks the time the train crossed," said F/Lt. Dale Hinz, with Michigan State Police.

Hinz said in his 20 years on the job, this was the worst train and car accident he had ever seen.

"Obviously, especially with the Amtrack trains, they travel very quickly and their closing speed is very rapid," he said. "On road conditions like this it makes it difficult to get around which is obviously a terrible, terrible decision to make."

A representative for Amtrak said no one on board the train was injured in the accident. The train continued on its route toward Detroit and Pontiac at around 8:30 Tuesday evening.

The crash did knock out power to about 2,200 Consumers Energy customers. Power had since been restored as of Tuesday night, according to the company's outage map.

 

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3 comments

  • Horsewagled

    Three killed after car and train collide in Kalamazoo Co.
    Your video shows the gates not being down the proper 20 seconds (more because of nearby intersection) before the train arrives and the traffic lights not being green which are supposed to be according to the FRA inventory.

    Where do they find the idiots to drive a 80 mph train bomb in a blinding snow. No wonder in 100 million miles traveled Amtrak kills 290 people to normal drivers 1.

    • sdpreston

      First I believe the video to be slightly edited and the voiceover to be added. If relook at the video with the train you will notice that you only hear a partial last horn blast of the locomotive. The locomotive engineer is required to do 2 longs a short and the last long until he clears the intersection. You only hear a quick 1 second blast as you see the train. Lastly I know this intersection, it is protected by a traffic light which also goes red prior to the train arriveing. Also the signals activate roughly 60 seconds prior to the train arriving. If there is a malfunction the ITCS system commicates to the train making it do restricted speed. Not sure what your tying to say about the traffic ligs being green? THey are red prior to the arrival and work with the activation of the crossing protection.

  • Michael Hankins

    I was in Battle Creek MI last night on M37 northbound from Dickman rd when I crossed the tracks just before the lights started flashing and the guards came down for a west-bound train.
    In my rear-view mirrors I watched; not ONE, not TWO but THREE cars go around the guards and cross the tracks just in front of the train.
    WTF is wrong with people in Kzoo and Battle Creek?