Two Ceres residents were killed instantly when their vehicle was struck by a freight train Saturday in Denair.
The driver had been attempting to cross the railroad tracks ahead of the train when the vehicle was hit, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The deceased were identified as Jesus Alberto Velazquez, 37, of Ceres and Maria Hernandez, 55, of Ceres.
The fatal collision happened at 2:30 a.m. Saturday at the railroad crossing at Keyes Road and Santa Fe Avenue, in Denair.
Velazquez was driving a 2004 Chevrolet truck southbound on Santa Fe Avenue, parallel to a freight train traveling at about 70 miles per hour on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks. Hernandez was a passenger in the truck.
Velazquez got ahead of the train and turned right onto Keyes Road. He drove around one of the activated railroad crossing arms and was attempting to maneuver around the other when the truck was hit by the train.
The two were pronounced dead at the scene.
The probe into the collision is ongoing and investigators do believe alcohol was a factor in Velazquez’s driving.
Roads in the area were closed for several hours.
The CHP stated that this collision should serve as a reminder for drivers to cross train tracks only at designated crossings and to obey all the warning signs of approaching trains.