A vehicle was sliced in half in Jacksonville, Florida, on Tuesday by an Amtrak train in the city’s Riverside neighborhood.
A female passenger in the back seat of the Honda Accord was ejected. Another passenger suffered road rash and minor injuries. The driver was also slightly injured, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office told USA Today. All three were transported to a nearby hospital for assessment. The male passenger was the driver’s cousin, and the female passenger was the cousin’s pregnant girlfriend, according to News 4 JAX.
Stacey Peterson Jr., 21, was driving north on Willow Branch Avenue, just off Roosevelt Avenue, about 10:30 a.m., when the train charged through the crossing, hitting and spinning the Honda, tearing the back seat and trunk off the car. Alexandria Mincey, 26, who is six weeks pregnant, was thrown from the back seat of the car. Mincey’s boyfriend has been identified as 35-year-old Edward Peterson, News 4 JAX reported.
Dr. Kai Cafferly said he witnessed the crash and ran over to help. “I heard the Amtrak train whistle. I heard it a couple of times, and suddenly I heard a car revving up their engine. It sounded like they were going to race,” Cafferly said. “My first thought was, ‘Human beings, oh my God!” Cafferly told News 4 JAX.
Surveillance video from the crash showed the crossing arms were down at the time of the crash. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office told News 4 JAX that Peterson admitted during an interview that the railroad arms were down and that he drove around them, causing the accident. “It could have hit me, but it was just stopped near the cross line and maybe that’s the reason the bars didn’t go down, I don’t know,” Evans Mbewe explained to the station. “Fortunately I’m still alive. It didn’t happen to me.”
Amtrack and CSX crews were on the scene investigating the crash. CSX owns the track where the accident occurred. In a statement obtained by News 4 JAX, a CSX spokeswoman said, “The operation functionality of the crossing arms and the speed of the train are part of the ongoing investigation.”