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I think since it's posted on the Internet, Amazon likely knows exactly what happened, he drove onto an unmonitored crossing without looking.

Well, he obviously had to call it in. It looked like he was isolated in a very rural area with about 1/3 of his truck left under him. And then submit a report. The release of the vehicle internal camera footage on the internet would have happened later, I'd imagine.

A comment was made by a fellow that knows that crossing, and it is a very oblique angle, his truck body left hand view out the drivers door may have blocked his view.  But, how did he miss the horn?  You know the engineer was blasting that thing and probably cussing just as loud.

A local news report including a shot of the front of...what's left of the van, the back of the van still wrapped around the lead unit, and a recording of the conductor's announcement after the train stopped:

From reading the comments in the TMZ video linked in the top-of-thread, it appears the driver was deaf in his left ear and had greatly reduced hearing in his right. If you pause at 25 seconds in the interior footage, you can (faintly) see the train through the driver's window but just out of his field of vision.

Interview with the driver below. He says he did hear it at the last second and slammed the gas pedal, that got him far enough to save his life:

---PCJ

Last edited by RailRide

Wow! That was crazy! It is really amazing that the driver survived apparently uninjured. And the funny thing was he seemed so calm about it. Like it was just another day on the job.

Not that I am knocking the railroad but that particular crossing didn't seem to have any lights. You would think with fast trains like that on those rails they would at least install the warning lights. Still the driver should have looked both ways. I am not sure what he was looking at but he does appear to look both ways, how the heck did he miss that train?

@Hudson J1e posted:

Not that I am knocking the railroad but that particular crossing didn't seem to have any lights. You would think with fast trains like that on those rails they would at least install the warning lights. Still the driver should have looked both ways. I am not sure what he was looking at but he does appear to look both ways, how the heck did he miss that train?

He was driving on the road paralleling the tracks, so the train would have been in the van's blind spot behind him until he turned into the crossing. Add to that his hearing impairment, and the likelihood that he's made that turn countless times with no train in the vicinity, so it didn't occur to him to lean out the window and look back before making the turn...until he heard the horn -- probably when it was close enough to register in his "good" ear and he hit the gas.

---PCJ

@RailRide posted:

He was driving on the road paralleling the tracks, so the train would have been in the van's blind spot behind him until he turned into the crossing. Add to that his hearing impairment, and the likelihood that he's made that turn countless times with no train in the vicinity, so it didn't occur to him to lean out the window and look back before making the turn...until he heard the horn -- probably when it was close enough to register in his "good" ear and he hit the gas.

---PCJ

In the other video of the news report, there is a cross buck with an official highway stop sign, and he did not stop at all.  Technically they have video evidence he did not 'stop, look, and listen'.  I say official stop sign, because unless it is the proper dimensions, color, and properly lettered,  you can go to court and win a case that the stop sign was not legal.  Know this from the days of driving a school bus and a fancy housing development created wooden stop sign 'to blend into the ambiance',  that a fellow ran when he hit my bus. They let him off, because the stop sign was not red,   and the housing development sprouted a hundred new legal stop signs almost over night.

Last edited by CALNNC

Yeah - unbelievable.  Papa Smurf got his truck decapitated, there is no excuse for that. He never hesitated and I didn’t see him react or gun the truck, he was clueless till bang!,  the whole back of his cab was ripped clean off.  Easy exit   haha

It is amusing to watch someone be that stupid I guess.  I got a chuckle out of it,  thanks for that.

Last edited by William 1
@RailRide posted:

He was driving on the road paralleling the tracks, so the train would have been in the van's blind spot behind him until he turned into the crossing. Add to that his hearing impairment, and the likelihood that he's made that turn countless times with no train in the vicinity, so it didn't occur to him to lean out the window and look back before making the turn...until he heard the horn -- probably when it was close enough to register in his "good" ear and he hit the gas.

---PCJ

I understand he was driving parallel to the road. You can see that in the second part of the video. He does look to the left but you are correct in that he didn't lean out the window and look way down to the left. The train was probably far enough down that it was in his blind side but moving a great amount of speed that it caught up to him very quickly. I agree he probably made that turn a thousand times and never once saw a train there. It doesn't appear to be a very well used crossing. I don't think he ever "hit the gas". He just crossed the tracks like he always did. He was very lucky he was where he was when the train hit and I don't think his hearing impairment had anything to do with it. Passenger trains can be notoriously silent. One time I was standing near the tracks of the northeast corridor watching a switcher move some cars (on the far side) when a passenger train blasted by me at like 100MPH. I had perfect hearing back then and I never heard it coming. This is one of the things that makes trains so dangerous. You would think that something so big and so heavy would make a ton of noise but on the contrary (not counting the whistle of course) they can be strangely quiet.

@CALNNC posted:

In the other video of the news report, there is a cross buck with an official highway stop sign, and he did not stop at all.  Technically they have video evidence he did not 'stop, look, and listen'.  I say official stop sign, because unless it is the proper dimensions, color, and properly lettered,  you can go to court and win a case that the stop sign was not legal.  Know this from the days of driving a school bus and a fancy housing development created wooden stop sign 'to blend into the ambiance',  that a fellow ran when he hit my bus. They let him off, because the stop sign was not red,   and the housing development sprouted a hundred new legal stop signs almost over night.

Screenshot of the forward-facing dashcam:

Crossbuck and stop sign is facing the main road. The driver appears to be coming down a long driveway paralleling the tracks (a mailbox can be seen next to the telephone pole as the van nears the intersection). Not defending the driver, but similar to the school-bus incident you described, neither road sign becomes any more visible (they're within the "T" of the TMZ watermark) as he approaches the road, and there isn't any such signage on the driveway..

---PCJ

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@William 1 posted:

Yeah - unbelievable.  Papa Smurf got his truck decapitated, there is no excuse for that. He never hesitated and I didn’t see him react or gun the truck, he was clueless till bang!,  the whole back of his cab was ripped clean off.  Easy exit   haha

It is amusing to watch someone be that stupid I guess.  I got a chuckle out of it,  thanks for that.

I saw him react ...after I played the TMZ video frame-by frame (pause the video and use the ">" and "<" keys to step forward and backward one frame at a time) Needless to say you need to be watching on a computer/laptop to do this:

Sequence: (this was written while looking at the video in another tab. In the embedded version above, the timing may be behind by about a second)

0:12 Driver leans forward and looks left as he starts turning the steering wheel. He's probably looking for vehicular traffic because he doesn't hear the train yet (remember, deaf in left ear)

0:13 Driver straightens up and looks right, again for vehicular traffic.

0:14 Driver looks back ahead of him as he turns across tracks. At this point you want to pause and start going frame-by-frame.

0:15 As you step through the frames at the 15-second mark, you see the first glimpse of the locomotive in the form of a glint of light at the edge of the window, level with the driver's nose. This is visible for only one frame and may be difficult to spot unless you go full-screen or watch on YouTube.

--Two frames later you can barely make out the front of the locomotive, or more precisely, the shadow of its pilot in the driver-side window. Driver is still looking straight ahead.

0:16 Driver is now occupying the crossing.

0:17 As the van rotates perpendicular to the tracks you can see the driver's face lit up by the locomotive's headlights. At this point it appears he can now see the train, perhaps out of peripheral vision. Seven frames later he drops his right hand to the side of the steering wheel and his shoulders tense up.

0:18 Driver looks forward and grimaces, in the last frame before impact you can see the MU connection port on the locomotive's front-right side in the driver's side window just above his elbow. One frame later the locomotive strikes the van. One frame after that the van's airbags deploy.

---PCJ

Last edited by RailRide
I agree he probably made that turn a thousand times and never once saw a train there. It doesn't appear to be a very well used crossing. I don't think he ever "hit the gas". He just crossed the tracks like he always did.

Amazon comes here several times a month. About twice a year, we get a driver who has been here before. They are literally always *new*. Then I get to have some popcorn and watch yet another try to turn in my 1300 foot driveway. Spacial skills are not their forte!!  Perhaps he was not familiar with route,,,???

Still one lucky dude!!!!

Last edited by endless tracks

I can’t stop laughing when I watch that.  The real shame is he’s prob gonna have to turn in the cute color coordinated purple papa Smurf outfit he was sporting that had nary a blemish or smudge on it suggesting he never broke a sweat in it.  

Dang dude, that was so you, and you only got to wear it for a day, can I have that hat…

Last edited by William 1

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