Taxi Driver, 5 Passengers Killed In Race to Railroad Crossing

LOS ANGELES--A taxi driver and his five passengers were killed in Compton after apparently racing around lowered railroad crossing gates in a disastrous bid to beat a train across the tracks, police said yesterday.

The taxi, which had been traveling parallel to the empty passenger train on an adjacent road, failed to make it across in time and was torn in two by the train late Saturday night.

"The taxi driver apparently tried to cross the track in front of the train and got struck," said Sgt. John Garrett of the Compton police.

The taxi was dragged 35 to 50 feet by the train, and five of the victims were thrown from the vehicle, said Compton Fire Department Battalion Chief Lane Haywood.

"The taxi cab was split in two--a good 50 to 75 feet from each other--and the rear tail section was engulfed in flames when we arrived on the scene," Haywood said. Four men and two women, in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties, were killed in the accident.

The train, which had been traveling at 50 to 55 mph, derailed but did not overturn. Its operator was taken to a nearby hospital but her condition was not life-threatening, an official said.

Plane Crash Kills Restaurant Head, 3 Sons

PORTLAND, Ore.--A float plane, piloted by the head of a Mexican health food restaurant chain and carrying his three sons, crashed into the Columbia River, killing all aboard.

William S. "Tiger" Warren, the 48-year-old chairman of Portland-based Macheezmo Mouse, was flying to the family's summer home in Washington state with his three sons--Jack, 14, Will, 13, and Rob, 9--after a Thanksgiving gathering, family members said. All four were killed in the crash.

The plane went down about 3 p.m. Saturday near the Washington side of the river, about 45 miles east of Portland, shortly after it left the water and began climbing into the sky, said Dave Cox, spokesman for the Skamania County sheriff's office.

Warren's 8-year-old daughter, Lucy, had stayed behind in Oregon with her mother, Geraldine, who was divorced from Warren and now is married to Portland stockbroker H. Gerald Bidwell.

Warren, his ex-wife and Bidwell had just emerged from a long ordeal in court as witnesses against a disgruntled investor who blamed Bidwell for a $50,000 stock loss.

Daniel Loren Jenkins Jr. was convicted Nov. 19 of soliciting aggravated murder for calling Warren and offering to "whack" Bidwell if Warren would pay him for it.

Warren immediately called police. Evidence and testimony at trial showed that Jenkins had stalked the Bidwells for months and threatened the lives of their six children--including the four children of Warren and his ex-wife.