3 dead after Amtrak train hits minivan

The wreckage of a van that was hit by a train. Three people inside the van were killed. (Nov. 18, 2014)

OSHTEMO TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Three people were killed Tuesday when a train struck a minivan west of Kalamazoo.

It happened around 4:30 p.m. where the tracks cross 11th Street near West KL Avenue in Oshtemo Township.

Witnesses said the crossing gates went down and the warning lights and bells were working as the train approached. They said the van passed several other vehicles and drove around the safety arms onto the tracks.

The van was hit by an Amtrak passenger train and pushed about a mile. The train eventually came to a stop near West Michigan Avenue in the City of Kalamazoo. Parts of the van were scattered along the tracks and a nearly unrecognizable section remained lodged under the train.

An Amtrak train struck a car near Kalamazoo. (Nov. 18, 2014)
(The Amtrak train.)

All three people in the vehicle were killed. The Jaws of Life were brought into to help recover their bodies.

Michigan State Police told 24 Hour News 8 Tuesday evening that the people killed were in their “late teens, early 20s,” were from Kalamazoo County, and were from three different families.

MSP identified the people killed and contacted their families Tuesday, but did not immediately make the identities public. Names could be released as early as Wednesday.

Trains move fast through the 11th Street crossing, and there are posted signs warning drivers of the high speeds. The gates came down well in advance of the train coming through. It would have been only a few moments before the train passed and the van could have continued on safely.

It’s not known why the driver went around the crossing gates and onto the tracks. State police say the reason may never be made clear.

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