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Witnesses reported driver talking on his cell phone as train approached

Beaverton police plan to cite the male driver of a vehicle struck by a freight train on Friday morning near Tualatin Valley Highway and Southwest 139th Avenue. The driver was treated at the scene for non life-threatening injuries and transported to a nearby hospital.by: BEAVERTON POLICE DEPARTMENT - A Honda CRV lands upside-down after a Portland & Western freight train struck it on Friday morning after witnesses say the driver was talking on his cell phone as the train approached the car. The driver escaped with non life-threatening injuries and will be cited after he is released from a nearby hospital.

Beaverton police called around 10:40 a.m. to a report of a vehicle struck by a train near the intersection found a dark-colored Honda CRV on its top just south of the tracks. One male occupant, the driver, was inside. Identified as Denis Pittman, 38, the driver was subsequently removed from the vehicle and treated at the scene before an ambulance transported him to a local hospital, said Sgt. Jim Shumway, a spokesman for the Beaverton Police Department.

Witnesses told officers that the driver was traveling west on TV Highway when he turned left (south) onto the driveway accessing a commercial development. As he approached the tracks at a slow speed, witnesses and the train's conductor said the driver was talking on his cell phone with his left hand up to the left side of his head. The witnesses and conductor said it appeared the driver did not see the oncoming train as the car approached the tracks. Witnesses reported waving to the driver to direct his attention to the train. The conductor said he blew the train's whistle in an attempt to catch the driver's attention. However, the driver continued past the stop sign and onto the tracks, where the Portland & Western freight train struck the driver's side of the vehicle and flipped it over, Shumway said.

Loaded with rocks, the 1,150-feet long train weighed 25 tons at the time of impact. There were no hazardous material on the train, which was traveling at an estimated speed of 25 miles per hour, Shumway said.

Pittman was expected to be released Friday afternoon, when police plan to cite him for failure to stop at a railroad signal and operating a motor vehicle while using a mobile communication device. The fine for the former offense when an accident is involved is $520, while the latter infraction carries a $220 penalty when a crash occurs.

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