An Amtrak train slammed into a tow truck on the tracks in Cardiff Saturday. NBC 7's Chris Chan speaks to witnesses, including Thomas Neely, who heard the horrific fatal crash.
A tow truck driver died Saturday as he was working to clear a stranded vehicle near the train tracks in Cardiff.
Shaun William Riddle, 27, was struck and killed by an Amtrak train around 2:35 p.m. at the intersection of Chesterfield Drive and South Coast Highway 101.
The young father of two had been called to the area to help a disabled SUV that had stalled just west of the tracks.
While Riddle was trying to hook up the vehicle to his truck, a southbound Amtrak train approached the intersection.
The county medical examiner reports that Riddle got back into his truck and tried to move it out of the train’s path.
He could not move the truck in time and the train struck the truck at a high rate of speed officials said.
A witness who caught the incident on video said the train crossing arm dropped on the SUV and a moment later, the train slammed into the tow truck.
The video shows the truck driver’s door closing and then the truck turning away from the train just moments before the collision.
It’s unclear how fast the train was traveling at impact, but the southbound Amtrak train came to a stop about half a mile away from the Chesterfield Drive crossing.
The crash is under investigation.
Thomas Neely works across the street from the train tracks. He told NBC 7 San Diego the sound of the fatal crash was horrific.
“It's somewhere between an explosion and thunder. You know, when metal hits metal it makes a noise unto itself,” Neely said.
The white SUV was left in place at the intersection.The two women who drove the SUV were not injured.
One witness said the driver was ejected from his tow truck and thrown some 100 yards from the crash site.
Pieces of the tow truck were strewn around the train tracks for hundreds of yards after the crash, including the flatbed, a wheel and even the massive engine block that landed about 200 yards away.
Numerous workers from the company TOWEX later arrived at the scene. The towing company responds to AAA calls.