Driver Trying to Beat Amtrak Train at Crossing Dies Along With Passenger

Two people died Saturday evening after an Amtrak train struck a car in Houston, Texas.

At around 8 p.m., the driver of the car, which was traveling north on Van Hut Lane, "failed to yield the right of way to a train" that was traveling westbound "and attempted to bypass the level crossing signal," according to the Harris County Sheriff's Office.

The sheriff's office said that before the car collided with the train, "level crossing signals were activated, along with flashing red lights and a bell."

The car was then "struck and forced" into a ditch, the sheriff's office wrote in a summary of the incident on its website. The driver and a passenger of the vehicle were "found with no signs of life on scene."

"There's a reason that those arms are activated, lights and sounds are activated, it's to keep the community safe and to alert that there's a train approaching," Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said, according to CNN. "It never ends well when somebody tries to beat a train. It's going to be a lengthy investigation."

Driver Trying to Beat Amtrak Train Dies
Two people died Saturday evening after an Amtrak train struck a car in Houston. Above, Amtrak's California Zephyr passenger train departs Chicago Union Station in Chicago on March 2. Luke Sharrett

The train was traveling from New Orleans to Los Angeles and was carrying 81 passengers "when an occupied vehicle obstructing the track came into contact with the train" Amtrak said in a statement to Newsweek. "The train remained upright and intact on the rails."

Following the crash, two passengers were taken to a local hospital.

"According to the Federal Railroad Administration, trespassing along railroad rights-of-way is the leading cause of rail-related deaths in America, and railroad crossing incidents are the second leading cause of rail-related deaths in America," a spokesperson for Amtrak continued. "These incidents can affect everyone involved—those who are injured or die and their families, our train crews, and our passengers. They also serve as critical reminders about the importance of obeying the law and of exercising extreme caution around railroad tracks and crossings."

The company said that it is working with local law enforcement officials to investigate the crash.

Newsweek has reached out to the Harris County Sheriff's Office for comment.

In September, an Amtrak train in Montana derailed, killing three people and injuring others. Some passengers filed lawsuits following the incident.

In a separate incident in Munich, Germany, earlier this year, one person died and dozens more injured when two passenger S-Bahn trains were involved in a collision. The trains collided on a single track route after one train departed from its station and hit another, according to Münchner Merkur.