In the early morning hours, on Feb. 4, 2018, an Amtrak train collided with a CSX freight train near Cayce, South Carolina. Two Amtrak personnel were killed and over 100 passengers were injured.
The Amtrak train was traveling from New Nork to Miami. The crash caused the lead engine and some passenger cars to derail. The train was carrying eight crew members and 139 passengers. The collision occurred at 2:35 a.m., according to authorities.
NBC News reported that 116 people were taken to local hospitals. The injuries ranged from minor to serious, according to South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster.
Amtrak engineer, Michael Kempf, 54, and conductor Michael Cella, 36, were killed in the incident, reported Margaret Fisher, the Lexington County Coroner. Kemp was from Savannah, Georgia. Cella was from Orange Park, Florida.
At the time of the incident, the empty CSX freight train was not moving. According to McMaster, there were multiple train tracks at the location of the crash. “Our information – subject to correction – is that this was not the main line. That is, this was a loading track or a sidetrack… where the collision took place. That’s subject to verification.”
It appeared to McMaster that the Amtrak train was not traveling on the right track at the time of the crash. However, the investigation is ongoing. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will be sending a team to the crash site, according to a statement given by Amtrak early Sunday afternoon.
Amtrak is “deeply saddened” by the loss of two of its employees.
In the statement Amtrak said, “CSX controls the dispatching of all trains, including directing the signal systems which control the access to sidings and yards.”
Sources with the railroad and familiar with the investigation told NBC News that before the crash, all CSX signals were offline for maintenance. The Amtrak train had verbal approval from CSX to proceed on the track. However, the switch on those tracks was not in the correct position, thus causing the collision. A Positive Train Control system on at this location would have likely prevented the crash.
At a news conference, Dr. Steve Shelton, the director for emergency preparedness at Palmetto Health, stated that 62 patients from the crash were at three of their facilities. One of the patients is in critical condition and two others are in serious condition. Still others are being evaluated for serious conditions.
The majority of his patients had not sustained life-threatening injuries. Six patients have been admitted.
Lexington Medical Center received 27 patients with mostly minor injuries. Most were treated for cuts and bruises and released. According to spokeswoman Jennifer Wilson, two patients were admitted.
According to South Carolina’s Emergency Management Division, 5,000 gallons of fuel was spilled in the collision. Hazmat responded to the spill and there is no further threat to the public.
This is the second Amtrak incident in less than seven days. On Jan. 31, a train carrying Republican members of Congress to a West Virginia retreat collided with a garbage truck. One person on the truck was killed.
By Jeanette Smith
NBC News: Amtrak collides with freight train in South Carolina, killing two, injuring more than 100
Image Courtesy of Richard Ericsson’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License