Community mourns Berks woman killed when train struck SUV

 

A drive down Krick Lane in South Heidelberg Township turned tragic when a Berks County woman, attempting to turn her SUV around on the tracks, was struck and killed by a train.

"Anytime you have an accident of this nature, it's certainly shocking," said South Heidelberg Township Manager Sean McKee. "It's hard."

Police identified the victim as 41-year-old Naomi Gonzalez. They said the accident happened around 2:30 a.m. Thursday. They believe that one train was stopped, blocking the crossing, and that's when another train on a different set of tracks, hit Gonzalez's SUV, dragging it for a half-mile.

It took rescue crews several hours to recover Gonzalez's body.

"It's a very labor-intensive process, because it's sandwiched between two trains," said Chief Leon Grim, South Heidelberg Township Police Department. "It's an extremely technical rescue operation to get the victim out, because it's a very tight space the firefighters are working in."

In the wake of the tragedy, McKee said the community is feeling the loss.

"We all have families, people we love and care about, so when something like this happens, I think [it helps] everyone reassess," McKee said.

McKee said, at this point, the accident does not appear to have been caused by a safety failure. Norfolk Southern said the train was traveling 48 miles per hour. The speed limit for trains in that area is 50 miles per hour. A witness also told police that the train and crossing signals were working at the time of the crash.

McKee is now encouraging others to be extra careful when crossing the tracks.

"Hopefully, there will be a positive to this," McKee said. "People will be a little bit more mindful on the roadways, but again, our thoughts and condolences are going out to the family of the victim."