No one knows what was going through the mind of Antonio Garcia Ortiz as he backed his car onto the edge of a South County train track an Amtrak train bearing down on him and his infant daughter.
What is known is that moments later, the force of the impact with the train threw him from the vehicle onto the nearby lettuce field.
Ortiz did not survive the impact.
His infant daughter did, but she died late Wednesday night, according to the CHP.
The crumpled shell of Ortizs compact sedan was all that remained after the impact.
Investigators with the San Luis Obispo County Sheriffs Office are working with Amtrak officials to try to determine the cause of the Wednesday afternoon tragedy.
The white sedan was struck by a passing Amtrak train in a vegetable field at 4:19 p.m. just north of Guadalupe at Division Street and Guadalupe Road. While investigators did not identify the victim, relatives at the scene did.
Investigators say the driver of the sedan traveled down the dirt road to the train tracks and parked.
When the 207-passenger southbound train approached, the engineer told investigators he sounded the horn but the driver didnt move out of the way. Instead, the driver backed up onto the tracks and stopped directly in the trains path.
The force of the impact threw the driver from the car and ejected the vehicles motor. The driver died at the scene. His 1-year-old daughter survived and was taken to Marian Regional Medical Center, where she died Wednesday night.
Not far away, the infants mother was working in the fields. She rushed to the hospital after the crash.
San Luis Obispo County Sheriffs Sgt. Anthony Perry said the incident is being investigated as an accident.
Five stunned and grief-stricken men who said they were related to the driver arrived shortly after the accident.
Gabriel Vasquez identified the driver as his cousin, 25-year-old Antonio Garcia Ortiz. Vasquez said his cousin had been working in the field with his wife for about 8 months. Vasquez said Wednesday his cousin received a call from his babysitter saying he had to come pick his child up because she had a family emergency. According to Vasquez, his cousin returned to the field with his daughter to get his wife.
Vasquez said Ortiz would never hurt himself or his daughter and that he was a churchgoing man who didnt drink or do drugs. He said he believes the tragedy was a horrific accident.
There are no crossing guards, lights or signals to warn of an approaching train. There is only a stop sign.
Sometimes field workers even forget about the train, Vasquez said.