Gilroy woman hurt as train hits car

A Gilroy woman, 25, was hurt after a train struck her Honda Civic. She was stopped directly on the tracks when the train hit the front of her vehicle.

GILROY—A Union Pacific train collided with a Honda Civic late Thursday after the car became wedged under a crossing arm gate and could not get out of the way of the oncoming train at the intersection of Masten Avenue and Monterey Road.
The driver, who was alone in the car, suffered moderate injuries and was transported via ground ambulance to a hospital in San Jose, CHP Officer Herb Kellogg said. She was identified Friday morning as Parveen Sidhu.
The Gilroy woman, 25, stopped on the tracks at 9:10 p.m. when the northbound train struck the front end of her vehicle, according to the California Highway Patrol.
“She stopped on the tracks when it was a red light and when the arms came down, she couldn’t back up because she was in a place she wasn’t supposed to be,” Kellogg told the Dispatch.
Sidhu was westbound on Masten Avenue prior to the collision, Kellogg said.
The crossing arm gates functioned properly, he added. But Union Pacific officials warn drivers to never stop directly on the tracks, even if drivers do not see a train coming, and to consider the length of time it takes for trains to stop even when emergency brakes are deployed.
Union Pacific maintenance crews were on scene inspecting the damaged train and conducting repairs after 10:30 p.m., according to CHP logs of the incident.
In a separate incident at the same train crossing Jan. 9, a Gilroy man was struck and killed by a Union Pacific maintenance vehicle as he crossed the tracks in a truck. The crossing arms designed to hold back traffic were in the up position at the time, according to the CHP.
Donald Williams, 54, was turning onto Masten Avenue from Monterey Road just before 1 p.m. when a maintenance vehicle headed southbound along the tracks slammed into his pickup, causing Williams’ vehicle to overturn and be pushed along the tracks. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Union Pacific employees told investigators at the scene that these particular crossing arms had malfunctioned before, and that malfunctions in conjunction with the type of maintenance vehicle that struck and killed Williams—a 2013 Spiker Lager—were a “common occurrence,” Kellogg told the Dispatch in January.
Following that incident, more than three separate malfunctions were reported to this newspaper—some less than two miles from the scene of the fatal collision.
A malfunction of the Union Pacific crossing arms at the railroad tracks at the intersection of Leavesley and Monterey roads March 19 left traffic at a standstill. Witnesses described a chaotic scene as the crossing arms were stuck in the down position for more than 30 minutes. It wasn’t until the following morning that repairs took place, according to a Union Pacific spokesperson.
At least six people, seeing a backup in traffic shortly after 5 p.m. March 19 as no one could cross the railroad tracks, lifted the crossing arms to allow vehicles, including a petroleum truck, to cross even though the arms designed to hold back traffic in advance of a coming train were down, according to witnesses.
The crossing arms were repaired the next day, UP Spokesman Francisco Castillo said.
“As soon as folks in the community see a crossing arm that’s malfunctioning, or anything malfunctioning at a crossing, we encourage them to contact us immediately so we can take a look at it and fix it,” Castillo said. “Once we get notification we go into fixing mode.”
He added, “The public must always take extreme care when approaching a train track. It takes more than a half-mile for a heavy freight train to stop, even when emergency brakes are used.”

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