- Associated Press - Friday, May 13, 2016

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) - Three men in a pickup died Friday when the driver pulled in front of a speeding Amtrak, ripping the truck in two but injuring none of the train’s passengers, authorities said.

The driver of the pickup pulled around a stopped freight train at a crossing on a private dirt road and got slammed by the passenger train on a parallel line, officials said.

“They weren’t taking into consideration that there were two sets of tracks there,” said Office Josh McConnell of the California Highway Patrol, who described the unidentified men as being in their late 20s or early 30s.

The train carrying 217 passengers was traveling up to 80 mph from Bakersfield to Oakland through rural Central California.

The truck’s two passengers were thrown from the Chevy 3500 work pickup in the collision that sent the truck’s engine flying 40 yards away, McConnell said.

The accident appears to have happened because freight train was blocking the main road, and the pickup driver took a dirt road parallel to the tracks to find a way around it, McConnell said.

The crossing at the dirt road was marked on both sides by stop signs with signs indicating the railroad crossing, but there were no automated crossing arms.

Debris from the pickup lay scattered in surrounding vineyards. The train’s engineer complained of pain, and the collision damaged one of the engine’s headlights, McConnell said.

The collision happened in Madera County about 15 miles from Fresno, Amtrak spokesman Mike Tolbert said. The train was delayed a little more than three hours, eventually leaving with all of its passengers aboard, he said.

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