On Tuesday at around eight in the morning an Amtrak train that was headed towards Chicago hit a semi-truck in Indiana after the driver pulled into the path of the oncoming train. The train was approximately 100 miles south of Chicago and about 25 miles north of Lafayette at the time that the collision took place. When the crash occurred there were only two more stops before the train was scheduled to arrive in Chicago. At that point in the trip there were 56 passengers and three crew members aboard the train, while the only person in the truck was the driver.
The collision between the Amtrak train and the semi-truck ended up tearing the truck into two pieces but left the driver without any injuries. Some reports seem to indicate that there were 14 injured on the train, while other reports have up to 24 listed but none of the injuries were fatal or described as life threatening. All of the injured passengers have been treated and released. Some passengers were treated on scene and eight were treated at a local hospital. Passengers that were not hurt were shuttled away from the scene on buses. The people traveling on the train were later put on to chartered buses in order to continue their journey to Chicago.
The driver of the truck, 55-year-old Jeffrey Hatfield said that he miscalculated how far the train was and believed that he had time to get across the tracks. His truck was the second of two trucks carrying powdered cement that crossed at that crossing in front of the train. Hatfield told the officers at the scene that he looked to the south and saw the train approaching but he believed that there was plenty of time for his truck to get over the tracks. Unfortunately that was not the case and the train split the truck in half. At the time of the accident the train which is part of the Indiana to Chicago Hoosier State Line for Amtrak had only made its second stop to pick up passengers in Lafayette.
After the Amtrak train hit the truck, the powdered cement that was being hauled through Indiana ended up coating not only the train but the tracks as well where the crossing occurred. While the powdered cement is not considered to be a hazardous material it can cause problems for the tracks themselves. If the cement were to solidify on the tracks there is a potential for a lot of extra damage to occur.
Both local officials and Amtrak track crews are looking at the site of the collision and assessing the area. They must determine how they can prevent the powdered cement from solidifying on the tracks as well as determine how they will clean up the gray dust like substance.
This is not the first time one of the conductors aboard the Amtrak train in Indiana, has been involved in a crash such as the one Tuesday where a truck was hit. The conductor was involved in a similar accident last year in Indiana. This latest accident left the conductor with only minor injuries.
By Kimberley Spinney
Photo by JPMueller99 – Flickr License