NEW ORLEANS -- A father and son are dead after their SUV was hit by an Amtrak train Tuesday afternoon.

The Kenner Police Department responded to the crash site off Airline Highway near the Jefferson Parish and Saint Charles Parish line.

Police are still trying to determine why the two victims were in the area at the time of the fatal collision, which unfolded down a private service road owned by the Eastern Jefferson Levee District.

Kenner Police identified the victims as Emmett Barreca, 56, of Norco, and his son, James Barreca, 32, of Norco.

KPD confirms that the SUV tried crossing railroad tracks in the area when it was crushed by an approaching Amtrak train.

'He [the train engineer] said the vehicle crossed in front of the train, he struck it. When officers arrived the two individuals, who were in the vehicle, were pronounced dead on the scene,' said Kenner Police Department Lt. Wayne McInnis.

Police say the train was coming from Chicago, bound for New Orleans and that the train engineer tried warning the SUV's driver.

'The horn was sounded multiple times before he crossed the intersection,' McInnis said.

Police say all 63 passengers and 8 crew members on-board the train were not injured.

Abi Derefaka spoke to Eyewitness News shortly after he got off the train and arrived in the Crescent City.

'I didn't feel anything. I didn't know we hit anything until they said something on the speaker,' said Amtrak passenger Abi Derefaka.

'These individuals had no reason for being on that roadway and that's a question that will have to be answered too,' said Lt. McInnis.

While police try to figure out why the SUV drove down a private road and across train tracks, Derefaka said he immediately texted family to tell them he was okay.

'I was texting my brother, and I said, wow, it's my first time on a train and we hit somebody,' said Derefaka.

Kenner police say railway crossing signs are in the area where the deadly collision occurred. Investigators are looking into the exact cause of the crash.

Read or Share this story: