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Train hits car in US, 5 young people inside die

An Amtrak passenger train carrying about 170 people struck a car that had skirted a gate at a road crossing near Detroit, killing all five people in the sedan, authorities said.

world Updated: Jul 10, 2009 10:40 IST

An Amtrak passenger train carrying about 170 people struck a car that had skirted a gate at a road crossing near Detroit on Thursday, killing all five people in the sedan, authorities said.

The crossing has a gate and flashing lights that apparently were working when the car approached, said Sgt. Mark Gajeski, a police spokesman. Based on witness accounts, "it looks like they probably did go around the arm. They went around the gate," Gajeski said. The crash occurred about 20 miles (32 kilometers) west of Detroit, police Sgt Craig Wilsher said. He said the vehicle was heading north when it crossed the train tracks and was struck. The train typically travels about 67 miles (107 kilometers) per hour at the site of the crash, Gajeski said.

The black Ford Fusion was broadsided and pushed down the tracks. It crumpled underneath the front of the train and ended up right-side up, its roof and front crushed. Gajeski said the car was pushed about one mile (1.6 kilometers) from one road crossing to another.

The victims were a 14-year-old girl and four young men: an 18-year-old and a 20-year-old from Taylor, a 19-year-old from Woodhaven, and a 21-year-old from Stafford, Virginia, according to police.

Police were withholding names, but Tammy Sadler said her 14-year-old daughter, Jessica Sadler, was among those killed. Tammy Sadler was at her parents' Canton Township home, not far from the accident site, Thursday night, where her family has been staying while moving from Taylor to Wyandotte.

Sadler, 45, told the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News that she had told her daughter to hurry home instead of going to the beach with her boyfriend.

"I told her she was going to be in trouble," Sadler said, sobbing. "She asked me if she could go to the beach and I told her no, she had to come home ... I feel I'm to blame." The bodies had remained in the car for hours after the crash while the investigation was ongoing, but a police dispatcher said they were removed Thursday night.

No one aboard the train was injured, an Amtrak spokesman said. Passengers were being bused to Ann Arbor to catch a later train to Chicago.

The train, which has a front and rear engine and five passenger cars, stopped near a landfill and a wooded area. The mangled sedan was pushed against the front of the train and investigators covered it with tarp.

Last year, 119 people died nationwide in Amtrak accidents, usually when trains struck vehicles or pedestrians at railroad crossings, according to figures from the Federal Railroad Administration.