Boy, 5, killed in train crash as Calif. family waited to see Christmas display

Published: Dec. 3, 2020 at 3:22 AM CST
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FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) - A five-year-old boy from California is dead after a train hit the van he and his family were waiting in to visit a popular Christmas light display.

Twinkling lights, holiday music and wooden reindeer welcomed families Tuesday night to Christmas Tree Lane in Fresno, California. But the holiday cheer of opening night turned to pain for one family when an Amtrak train collided with their minivan, killing 5-year-old Anton Solorio.

Three other family members were taken to a nearby medical center with minor injuries

Graciela Galindo was also waiting in traffic when she heard the train horns and then – a huge impact.

“Right when I was at the light, I was like, ‘Someone’s going to get hit on the train tracks,’ and sure enough, I heard the train and then the boom,” she said.

Investigators believe the family’s minivan somehow got stuck on the train tracks.

Traffic lining up to enter Christmas Tree Lane, just feet from the railroad crossing, was backed up for blocks. The congestion is a known problem for those who visit the holiday display every year, and some say it was a recipe for disaster.

Galindo wishes authorities would address the issue before another tragedy happens.

“It kind of makes me uneasy because I know there was a patrol officer at the entrance of Christmas Tree Lane, but there was no one directly near the tracks to, obviously, let people know to not stop on the tracks because it was a pretty big problem. Everyone was stopping on the tracks,” she said.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation. Police say it appears the railroad signals were working at the time and that the train engineer applied the brakes and used the horn.

None of the 50 passengers on the train were injured.

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