August 16, 2018

Misaligned switch caused Amtrak-CSX train crash in Cayce

08 February 2018, 09:36 | Darnell Patrick

Emergency personnel at the scene of a train crash near West Columbia S.C. Feb. 4 2018

Emergency personnel at the scene of a train crash near West Columbia S.C. Feb. 4 2018

Robert Sumwalt, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said Sunday afternoon that there's no evidence of foul play, although the FBI is assisting in the investigation. And while no one knows exactly why the most recent accident happened, some experts have already said this most recent crash-and the one in Washington-could have been prevented if the trains were using a technology known as positive train control, or PTC.

The lead engine and several passenger of Amtrak Train 91, which was operating from NY to Miami, derailed after coming "in contact" with the freight train, Amtrak said in an emailed statement.

An Amtrak passenger train traveling an estimated 50 miles per hour ran off a main track Sunday in Lexington County, S.C., and smashed into a parked train, killing two people. Several freight railroads have previously told the government they won't be able to meet the 2018 deadline. On its website, the company says it's also been limited by lengthy review processes needed to implement the system on 15,000 miles of track. Sumwalt also said the Amtrak train had nine crew members.

This is the second train accident in less than a week.

Amidst the tragedy that all of the 139 passengers and 8 Amtrak employees experienced, first responders, medical personnel at area hospitals and even the passengers themselves acted with tremendous fearlessness as they worked together to free fellow passengers and get them to safety. Richard Blumenthal of CT said the nation's railroads must be made safer, declaring, "Business as usual must end". It caused it to divert from the main line and onto a side track, where the freight train was parked.

Sumwalt told reporters he had not been briefed about what the CSX workers said.

In a separate statement, Amtrak emphasized that CSX owns and operates the tracks where the accident happened, in addition to the signal systems. "People were screaming. I thought I was gonna die, I didn't think I was gonna survive that".

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Suddenly awake, Larkin said the train was shaking and jumping and his seat broke loose, slamming him into the row in front of him. Other passengers were bleeding. And 116 people were taken to four hospitals, according to the governor.

The locomotives of both trains were left crumpled, the Amtrak engine on its side.

Two of the 116 people injured remained in critical condition overnight, officials said.

The passenger train's locomotive was left lying on its side, and the first vehicle was bent and also derailed, although it remained upright, images from the scene showed. Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fisher identified the men as 54-year-old Michael Kempf of Savannah, Georgia and 36-year-old Michael Cella of Orange Park, Florida. It was the third deadly wreck involving Amtrak in less than two months. Autopsies were being conducted, she said.

The wreck came just days after a chartered train for Republican members of Congress heading to a retreat collided with a garbage truck in rural Virginia, killing the truck driver.

Matthew Cheeseman, superintendent of Perquimans County Schools, said he was in one of the cars that derailed outside of Columbia early Sunday.

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