San Diego

Deputies Save Suspected DUI Driver Before Amtrak Crash in Encinitas

Deputies pulled a suspected drunk driver from a stalled vehicle in Encinitas moments before a train slammed into the car Friday night.

A car stalled for unknown reasons on railroad tracks at the E Street crossing, along South Coast Highway 101 in Encinitas sometime before 10:30 p.m., San Diego County Sherriff’s Deputy T. Eikermann said.

An Amtrak train operator noticed the car parked on the tracks between the warning crossing arms and slammed on emergency breaks but it was too late for the southbound train traveling at speeds of 80 miles-per-hour, Eikermann said. At about 10:30 p.m., the train smashed into the vehicle.

Luckily, SDSO deputies had pulled the driver, 21-year-old Angel Milan-Sanchez of National City, from the vehicle shortly before the train crashed into it. 

Deputies evaluated the Milan-Sanchez and believed he was driving under the influence of alcohol when his vehicle became stopped on the tracks.

Milan was arrested on suspicion of DUI.

Tom Evers, a resident nearby heard the crash Saturday night — first the boom of an impact followed by the sound of metal screeching. About 60 seconds later he heard sirens. 

When Evers looked at the scene of the crash all he saw was "Mangled steel, it’s unbelievable," he said. 

Evers said although he's lived by the tracks for years, he'd never seen a crash like this one. 

“One would imagine, train versus car — train wins, but it’s absolutely and completely annihilated. It’s unbelievable,” Tom Evers said. “At first I couldn’t tell what it was, I couldn’t even tell it was car.”

The collision caused delays of at least an hour for travelers aboard Amtrak Pacific Surfliner 792. 

The E Street train crossing is located near a popular downtown Encinitas bar area frequented by residents. 

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