SINKING SPRING, Pa. -- A man who chased his estranged girlfriend through town used his car to push hers into the path of an oncoming freight train after both had stopped at a railroad crossing, police said, killing her and three others in the car.
The woman made a frantic 911 call on her cellular phone and was talking to a dispatcher when her car was struck by the train, state police Cpl. Bruce Edwards said.
The man, who fled the scene, was being sought today. The car he was believed to be driving was found late Thursday in Reading, about five miles away.
''We feel that we have a good idea who is responsible for this tragedy, and we're pursuing that person now,'' Edwards said. The man's identity was not released.
The crash happened about 4:30 p.m. Thursday at a crossing on the main thoroughfare in Sinking Spring, a town of about 2,400 people 50 miles northwest of Philadelphia.
It followed a half-hour chase in and around town that reached speeds up to 90 mph, police said.
The fleeing woman, Candace Wertz, 20, of Sinking Spring, went around a car that was parked at the crossing -- the gates were down because of the oncoming train -- and then stopped in the oncoming traffic lane, state police Lt. Ed Snyder said.
''The second vehicle came up behind her and struck her in the rear. The second vehicle then pushed the first vehicle onto the tracks,'' Snyder said.
The Norfolk Southern freight train was going about 40 mph at the time of the collision, Edwards said. He said the engineer applied the brakes but was unable to stop in time, dragging the woman's car nearly 60 feet before coming to a rest.
Wertz and her 2-year-old son, John Michael Cortez, were pronounced dead at the scene. Another woman in her 20s and a girl about 6 years old died after being taken to hospitals. Their names were not immediately released.
A 14-year-old girl who was at a playground near the crossing said the two cars slammed on their brakes and stopped before the second car revved its engine and shoved the first car onto the tracks.
''It happened really fast and at first I thought it was an accident,'' Katie Connors said. ''But I could hear screaming for just one split second and then the train tried to brake, but it was too late.''
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