Lourdes Ruiz, 41, died in a train versus car accident in Bakersfield, but managed to save the lives of her four children and two nieces, according to this news report. California Highway Patrol officials say Ruiz’s car stalled on the tracks at a railway crossing for an unknown reason. Ruiz and her 15-year-old son apparently tried to move the car, but both were struck by the train. Ruiz died but her son escaped with moderate injuries.

CHP officers say they don’t know why Ruiz’s car stalled on the tracks. They also say it is not clear whether the car stalled before the crossing arms came down or if Ruiz drove through the arms. The fatal train accident occurred when a passing freight train slammed into Ruiz’s car. Officials have also said that it does not appear as if the car became “high-centered” on the tracks.

My heart goes out to the family and friends of Lourdes Ruiz, who died so tragically and heroically, putting her own life in grave danger to save the lives of her four children and two nieces. I offer my deepest sympathies to everyone who knew and loved Ruiz. I wish her teenaged son the very best for a quick and complete recovery and will pray for the emotional well-being of the children who saw Ruiz get killed.

I trust this tragic train crossing accident will be thoroughly investigated by all concerned authorities. But the primary question here is how Ruiz’s vehicle got stuck on the tracks. Were the barricade arms at this railway crossing functioning properly? If this train versus auto accident occurred as a result of malfunctioning arms at the crossing, then the railroad company could be held liable. The investigation, I hope, will also look into whether the freight train’s engineer had sufficient time to stop the train before it collided with Ruiz’s car. Ruiz’s family would be well-advised to retain the services of an experienced California train accident attorney, who will make sure that the responsible parties are held accountable and the family receives the compensation they rightfully deserve.