Florida woman, 2 grandsons killed by train at gate-less crossing

Florida

Rescue workers are at the scene where an Amtrak passenger train hit a car on the tracks in Palm Beach County Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. Authorities say three people were killed in a vehicle that collided with the Amtrak passenger train, but no passengers aboard the train were hurt. (Jennifer Lett/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — A Florida woman and her two grandsons were killed by a passing Amtrak train on Saturday afternoon as she drove the Cub Scouts to an overnight camping trip near West Palm Beach.

The train carrying some 200 passengers collided with the family’s Subaru Outback at the gate-less railroad crossing near the entrance to the J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area, the Palm Beach Post reported.

The train dragged the vehicle for a half-mile, killing Valery Jo Rintamaki, 58; Tristan Prestano, 10; and Skyler Prestano, 8. Camping gear was strewn along the tracks.

No one on the train was injured.

The boys’ grandfather David Peat told the newspaper he was shocked to find no structure preventing a car from unwittingly driving into the path of an oncoming train. Instead, there is a pole with a railroad crossing and yield sign.

“There’s no drop-down gates, no lights, no signal,” he said.

Peat, who was the boys’ caretaker, took his concerns to longtime acquaintance state Rep. Matt Willhite, a Democrat from Wellington, where the family lives.

“We just lost three members of our community, and young kids,” Willhite told the Post. “I’m going to look into why we don’t have more than just a yield sign at a rail crossing where a train is going (at high speeds).”

The tracks are owned by CSX Transportation.

Peat said the boys enjoyed the outdoors and loved to ride dirt bikes and fish. They attended New Horizon Elementary School, which is out for the Thanksgiving holiday. The school alerted parents on Sunday that the boys had died and said grief counselors would be available when school resumes Dec. 2.

Terrence Hamilton, head of the Boy Scouts of America’s Gulf Stream Council, which oversees Scouting activities in a seven-county area including Palm Beach, called it “an extremely difficult time for our Scouting family.”

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