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Train hits truck on south side, injuring driver

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Posted at 9:35 AM, Apr 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-16 00:34:56-04

A motorist was critically injured Friday morning when a train hit a truck on the south side.

According to Jay Karlik, Rural/Metro spokesman, the accident happened around 9:15a.m. in the 11000 block of South Nogales Highway.

Rural Metro crews had to use the jaws of life to get the woman out of the vehicle. She was transported to Banner University Medical Center in life-threatening condition.

 

 

The family of the woman has identified her as Pat Velasquez, who lives in a house behind the train tracks. 

Valesquez's brother, Salvador Estrada just happened upon the scene, not knowing he had a close connection to the accident. 

"I just came to check the mail and then I kept on going and I seen her truck in the ditch there and I said, 'That's my sister's truck.' So I turned around and I asked the cop and he said, 'Yea, her name was Pat,'" said Estrada.

The initial investigation by Pima County Sheriff's Deputies determined it appears Valesquez did not stop for the oncoming train, but deputies still need to wait until she can talk to confirm exactly what happened. 

The railroad crossing is on a private road, so there are no warning lights or arms lowered when a train is coming. 

"It is really dangerous, you know. My mom and everybody lives right here, my grandmother lived here. And it is dangerous," said Estrada's girlfriend, Monique Garcia.

Courtney Rodriguez with the Pima County Sheriff's Department said even if Valesquez is found to be at fault, she cannot be cited, because the incident happened on a private road. Rodriguez said however, Union Pacific could charge Valesquez for any damage caused by the accident if she is found to be at fault.

In the past three years there have been five incidents in Pima County involving a car and a train according to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). There have been even more incidents involving pedestrians.

Data about railroad incidents is available publicly from the FRA. Going back 40 years Ninn On Your Side is able to determine the railroad crossings with the most incidents involving a vehicle.

The top three are all downtown. The crossing at 9th Avenue has the most vehicle-train incidents with 18. Down the street, 7th Avenue comes in second place with 12. The crossing at Main Avenue third with seven.

For all of Pima County, the FRA is able to predict which crossings are most likely to have a future incident involving a vehicle and train. The Union Pacific line at Cortaro Farms Road has the highest number of predicted collisions at 0.186 collisions per year.