Woman, two grandchildren killed after SUV, Amtrak train collide in northern Palm Beach County

Woman, two grandchildren killed after SUV, Amtrak train collide in northern Palm Beach County
A grandmother and her two grandchildren were killed after their vehicle hit was hit by an Amtrak train.

A woman and her two grandchildren on the way to a Cub Scouts camping trip were killed when their sport-utility vehicle was hit by a northbound Amtrak passenger train at a crossing without gates and no flashing lights Saturday afternoon in northern Palm Beach County.

On Sunday morning, the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office identified the victims as Valery Jo Rintamaki, 58, of West Palm Beach, and Skyler Prestano, 8, and Trystan Prestano, 10, both of Wellington.

The crash happened at 2 p.m. Saturday near the 18000 block of Beeline Hwy. at the entrance to the Corbett Wildlife Management Area near Jupiter.

Rintamaki and the boys were going to an overnight camping trip, according to their grandfather, David Peat.

“They loved to ride their dirt bikes,” Peat, the caretaker of the boys, told The Palm Beach Post. “They loved to play basketball. They loved to fish.”

Trystan and Sktyler attended New Horizons Elementary and were members of Cub Scouts Pack 208, both in Wellington

“This is an extremely difficult time for our Scouting family," Terrence Hamilton, scout executive/CEO of the Gulf Stream Council, Boy Scouts of America, said in a written statement. "We are deeply saddened to confirm the deaths of two Scouts and a parent following a tragic car accident.

"We are mindful of the effect this incident may have on our local Scouting community, and grief counselors will be made available to care for our youth members and adult volunteers."

Driving a 2018 Suburu Outback loaded with camping equipment, Rintamaki was traveling on North Grade Road after turning left from the Bee Line Highway and then slowed as she began crossing the railroad tracks, PBSO said. She failed to yield for the train. The front of the train impacted into the side of the vehicle.

Firefighters at the scene say the heavily damaged vehicle was pushed about a half-mile north from the crossing, which only has railroad yield signs. There were no injuries to any 200 passengers or crew inside the train, Christina E. Leeds, senior director of public relations for Amtrak, told WPTV.

The track remain closed until about 8 p.m., when the idled northbound train was able to pass through as well as a southbound stopped near West Palm Beach.

Amtrak's Silver Star 92, which was traveling from Miami to New York, was scheduled to stop in the West Palm Beach train station at 1:27 p.m. and Okeechobee at 2:26 p.m.

Two northbound trains pass through the area daily with the next train scheduled for Sunday morning.

The southbound Silver Meteor Train 97, which departed New York on Friday, was delayed north of West Palm Beach, Amtrak posted on Twitter.

Two people have been killed by Amtrak trains in South Florida on the same route since June.

On June 27, a pedestrian was killed in the railroad tracks by the northbound Amtrak 92 train in Deerfield Beach.

On Oct. 30, a bicyclist was struck and killed by an Amtrak train as it approached the Southwest 18th Street crossing in Boca Raton.