Fatal Train Crash in Santa Barbara County


Fatal Train Crash in Santa Barbara County

I’m Ed Smith, a Santa Barbara car accident lawyer. A Santa Barbara County collision between a train and SUV on July 24 caused the death of the car’s elderly driver in Guadalupe.

I want to extend my condolences to the family of the crash victim and all those affected in their time of sorrow.

What Happened

The accident happened around 3:00 in the afternoon at the railroad crossing at Highway 1 and Main Street when Gloria Nunez of Guadalupe, age 74, hit the arm of the railroad crossing in her SUV, passed through it and collided with a train on its way from Los Angeles to Seattle. The train was carrying around 300 people, but Nunez was the only one who died in the crash, her vehicle ending up on its side.

Warning Signals Were Functioning

According to a representative of the Guadalupe Police Department, the crossing arms were in operation and warning lights flashing and bells ringing. The crossing is well marked, and drivers had been warned to not bypass them in an attempt to beat the train. However, Mrs. Nunez made the decision to drive around them. The train was stopped for about three hours after the crash while an investigation was conducted.

Reason for the Accident Remains Unknown

According to someone that reporters spoke with, Nunez had been married for about 50 years and had lost her husband several years earlier. However, her death was not believed to have been a suicide and might have been caused by a medical event. The chief of police stated that it had been about 15 years since a train accident had occurred in Guadalupe.

Railroad Track Violations

As part of the rules of the road, California drivers are mandated to stay clear of railroad crossings in certain instances such as when a train is coming. The California Department of Motor Vehicles states the following:

  • The speed limit is 15 mph when a vehicle approaches a railroad crossing within 1,000 feet or the tracks cannot be seen visually for a distance of 400 feet both ways.
  • Not only look but listen for the sounds of approaching trains.
  • Some vehicles such as school buses and vehicles carrying loads that are hazardous are required to stop before crossing railroad tracks, even if it looks clear.
  • Never stop a vehicle on the tracks.
  • Stop if you see or hear a train approaching.
  • Never go around or under the gates at a railroad crossing. A driver is required to wait until the warning lights have gone off, the alarm has stopped, and crossing bars have fully lifted before proceeding.

Statistics of Train/Motor Vehicle Accidents

In 2016, 2,025 train/motor vehicle accidents occurred nationwide, according to Operation Lifesaver. Of these, there were 265 fatalities and 798 injuries. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 75 percent of the crashes are generally 25 miles or less away from the person’s home. In addition, 50 percent occur within five miles from the person’s residence.

Injuries in a Train Accident

A train/motor vehicle accident usually has significant injury or death associated with it. Rarely can the occupants of the motor vehicle survive the crash without being injured. If the driver failed to take sufficient precautions, the family of a passenger killed in the crash may wish to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver.

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Santa Barbara Personal Injury Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Santa Barbara car accident lawyer. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident with a train, please phone me at (805) 372-0200 for my friendly and free advice. I also have a toll-free number at (800) 404-5400.

Previous clients of mine have been kind enough to leave comments and reviews on Yelp, Avvo, and Google Plus. In addition, you are welcome to look over the Verdicts and Settlements listings that show some of the settlements or verdicts I have obtained for previous clients.

As a practicing injury lawyer in California for 35 years, I have helped many victims of motor vehicle and train accidents around the state, including Santa Barbara, by helping them receive fair compensation for their motor vehicle, motorcycle and truck injuries, as well as in wrongful death cases on behalf of the bereaved families.

The group, Million Dollar Advocates, which I belong to as a California member, represents a membership of the top trial lawyers around the country who have proven settlements or verdicts for their clients of $1 million or more.

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