FRESNO, California (KGPE) — Police plan to direct traffic earlier in the evening than they did for Christmas Tree Lane after a five-year-old boy was killed in a train crash on Tuesday.
The Fresno Sheriff’s Office has identified the boy that was killed as Anton Solorio of Fresno.
His 23-year-old mother, who is seven months pregnant, was driving the van. Another young child and woman were also in the car but investigators believe they will be okay.
The family was waiting in their van in a long line to get into Christmas Tree Lane. Investigators said a lane was open but the 23-year-old believed she cleared the tracks.
“There was a lane open and a driveway that could have been avoided and that is why we honestly think she thought she had cleared the tracks and had enough room,” said Deputy Chief Michael Reid. “Unfortunately that wasn’t true.”
“All I could hear was screams,” said witness Charlie Orta who lives near the intersection. “I went over to see if I could help and there is nothing you can do at that point. That life is gone.”
Christmas Tree Lane was born in 1920 to honor a child who died at one of the homes on Van Ness Avenue. One hundred years later another young life was taken too soon.
Orta heard the train warning whistle in his neighborhood right before the crash happened. Orta then heard frantic horns followed by a bang so loud his house shook.
“I just knew a life was lost before I even came out the front door,” said Orta. “I could tell by the way it sounded.”
Once Orta went outside he saw a white can with the back ripped off.
“There were pieces of the van wrapped around the entire side,” said Orta. “There were seats that were hanging out.”
According to the Federal Railroad Association, this is the 6th accident at this crossing since 2002. Neighbors want the city to have police direct traffic earlier during the popular holiday attraction, and councilmembers invest in things like extra crossing arms, warning signs, and speed monitors.
“We hope the city will do something,” said Orta. “I do think it could have been prevented.”
The crossing is on the board of Esmerelda Soria and Nelson Esparza’s districts. Soria said she is working with public works as we speak to get warning signs up.