They Were Driving to a Camping Trip. Then the Train Came

Florida woman, 2 young grandsons killed on tracks that had no gates or signals
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 25, 2019 9:25 AM CST
They Were Driving to a Camping Trip. Then the Train Came
Rescue workers are at the scene where an Amtrak passenger train hit a car on the tracks in Palm Beach County, Fla., on Saturday.   (Jennifer Lett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via 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, per the AP. The train carrying some 200 passengers collided with the family’s Subaru Outback at the gateless railroad crossing near the entrance to the JW Corbett Wildlife Management Area, the Palm Beach Post reports. 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. David Peat, the boys' grandfather, tells the paper he was shocked to find no structure preventing a car from unwittingly driving into the path of an oncoming train. Instead, there's a pole with a railroad crossing and yield sign.

"There’s no drop-down gates, no lights, no signal," he says. Peat, who was the boys' caretaker, took his concerns to a 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 says. "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 says the boys enjoyed the outdoors and loved to ride dirt bikes and fish. The head of the Boy Scouts of America's Gulf Stream Council, which oversees Scouting activities in a seven-county area that includes Palm Beach, calls it "an extremely difficult time for our Scouting family."

(More train accident stories.)

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