Train Smashes Into Big Rig in Calif.; 19 Passengers Hurt

SHAFTER, Calif. --

There were some tense moments for passengers aboard an Amtrak train Friday after it crashed into a semitruck in downtown Shafter.

219 passengers headed to Bakersfield were on board, but luckily nobody was seriously injured.

Train Smashes Into Big Rig; 19 Passengers Hurt

Just before 4 p.m. Friday, an Amtrak train traveling southbound from the Handford area crashed into with a big rig at the intersection of Shafter Avenue and Central Valley Highway.

"All of a sudden, I heard a loud crunching sound, and saw wood splinters flying out from the bottom of the train, and sparks flying from the brakes and the entire thing shaking out of proportion," said passenger Mikael Walker.

"All I heard was a boom and everything seemed in slow motion," said passenger Dinnetta Chase. "Everybody shook, and I shook."

Passengers said the cabin instantly filled up with smoke and chaos broke out.

"There was a bunch of screams, crying babies. Overall just a bunch of turmoil on the train," said passenger Joe Partida.

Officials say the big rig, loaded with roofing material, was unable to get off the track in time.

"Pretty much destroyed the tractor-trailer rig," said Shafter Police Chief Charlie Fivecoat. "Fortunately the driver of the rig is OK."

Luckily so were most the passengers.

A triage area was set up to treat the injured. Nineteen passengers, suffering minor injuries were transported to area hospitals.

The passengers aboard that train were bused to the Amtrak station in downtown Bakersfield, where family members waited for their loved ones' arrival.

Officials are saying that the crossing arms were working fine at the time of the accident.

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