Woman dies, son injured as Amtrak train hits car in Camas

KATU photo

A woman died and her son was injured after an Amtrak train struck their car in Camas Tuesday morning.

The crash was reported around 10:30 a.m. at SW Viola Street between 5th and 6th avenues.

Camas police identified the woman as Maria Gonzalez Torres, 34. She was in the car with her 14-year-old son when the train crashed into them. Police say the teenager was alert and conscious after the crash and walked away from the scene. He is in the hospital for his injuries.

Debrah Riedl, a spokesperson for Camas Police, says the driver did not stop before trying to cross the tracks headed southbound.

"It's unsecured, so there are no crossing arms," Riedl said. "You have to physically stop and look before you cross the railroad track."

There were 75 passengers and five crew members on the Amtrak trained headed for Portland from Chicago. No one on board was hurt. The train remained on scene for nearly two hours before it continued on to the next stop in Vancouver. Few passengers on the train recall feeling or hearing the impact with the car.

"This train rocks and rolls so much, it's hard to tell what's normal and what's not," said Katie Garcia, who was returning home from Indiana on the train.

Garcia says they did not realize something was wrong until the train started to slow down and a strong smelled filled the air.

"We started smelling really strong break burning smell," Garcia said.

The maximum speed on that section of track is 70 mph, but an spokesperson for Amtrak did not know the speed of the train at the time of the crash.

About 40 trains use that section of track each day according to Gus Melonas, a spokesperson for BNSF Railway. Regular rail traffic resumed by early afternoon.

Melonas said train accidents involving vehicles are very rare in Washington state, a majority of their accidents involve trespassers on foot.

Records from the Federal Railroad Administration indicate the only other vehicle crash at the Viola Street crossing occurred in 1993.

Before crossing a railroad track you should always stop, look, and listen.

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