Amtrak Train Collides With Truck, Causing Deadly Crash

Courtesy of Richard Eriksson (Flickr CC0)

An Amtrak train crashed on its way to Chicago from Los Angeles. The accident has claimed a total of four lives and has left 50 people injured as of the time of this writing.

The Southwest Chief Train 4 was carrying 275 passengers and 12 crew members when it derailed yesterday after hitting a dump truck in Kansas City, Missouri. The crash occurred 84 miles northeast of the city at a crossing. Three people were confirmed dead by Lt. Eric Brown of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. One of the dead was in the truck while the other two were on the train. Authorities have confirmed that a fourth passenger has died of their injuries after being sent to the University of Missouri Health Center.

Courtesy of Mike Knell (Flickr CC0)

Amtrak stated that the crash happened at 12:42 p.m. in a town called Mendon. The company was “deeply saddened” when the news broke about the casualties. Amtrak now has two crashes in the span of two days. The other crash occurred a day earlier in California when an Amtrak train carrying 85 passengers hit a vehicle.

Details Are Still Coming Out

The 4 victims were among a group of 150 people being sent to nearby hospitals for both minor and serious injuries. Officials have blamed the crash on railroad infrastructure locations that are overdue for improvements. Any vehicle passing the crossing has no lights or other signals to warn of incoming Amtrak trains.

It needs arms on it or signals. Promises to upgrade the crossing – which does not have signals or lights – had fallen flat. Nor had the brush been cut back to improve visibility.

Locals in the area have complained but have received no word on when work will begin on updating the site. The Kansas City Star reports that about half of Missouri’s 3,800 highway-railroad crossings have alarms and other features. One local stated that Amtrak and other trains normally pass through the area at up to 90 mph. Some say a crash was inevitable given that the site is dangerous without necessary improvements. We still do not know what speed the Amtrak train was traveling at, but some estimate that it was probably in the 70-90 mph range.

If you cross here with a vehicle, stop, approach very slowly, then look both ways. There are two tracks and around 85 trains go through there every day.

Response From Authorities

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is leading the investigation into the crash. Amtrak trains will not be crossing the site for “a matter of days” according to NTSB chairwoman, Jennifer Homendy. The 16-member “go team” is piecing together details of the derailment from camera and speed data provided by Amtrak.

With the team, we’ll have specialists from mechanical, from signal systems from operations and survival factors. We’ll have a highway person, a drone operator, and some team members from NTSB’s Office of Transportation Disaster Assistance to work with survivors and families of those who were involved in the derailment.

The US transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg has also sent Federal Railroad Administration (FR) staff to help with the investigation.

Written by Chiagozie Onyewuchi
Edited by Sheena Robertson


The Independent: Amtrak derailment – live: Fourth person dies after Missouri train crash at crossing with ‘safety issues’; by Graig Graziosi, Io Dodds, Shweta Sharma, and Gino Spocchia
The New York Times: Amtrak Train Hits Truck in Missouri, Killing 4 and Injuring Dozens; by Eduardo Medina and Michael Levenson
CNN: Multiple dead after Amtrak train derails in Missouri; by Elise Hammond and Melissa Macaya
The Washington Post: Death toll in Missouri Amtrak derailment climbs to four as NTSB probe begins; by Kim Mueller, Justin George, Michael Laris and Luz Lazo

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Richard Eriksson’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Mike Knell’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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