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This is the fourth fatal crash involving an Amtrak train in two months

Sunday's train collision in South Carolina was the fourth fatal incident involving an Amtrak train since the start of...

Posted: Feb 5, 2018 2:04 PM
Updated: Feb 5, 2018 2:04 PM

Sunday's train collision in South Carolina was the fourth fatal incident involving an Amtrak train since the start of December.

The circumstances surrounding each crash vary; in two cases, vehicles appear to have driven around the lowered arm at a train crossing. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating three of the collisions, including Sunday's.

Here is what we know about the fatal incidents:

South Carolina

Two Amtrak employees were killed when the train they were working on collided with a CSX freight train around 2:35 a.m. Sunday in Cayce, South Carolina, Amtrak officials said. The passenger train had been diverted off the main track onto a rail siding, where it crashed into a stationary freight train, a National Transportation Safety Board official said.

Local officials said 116 people were injured and taken to local hospitals. Eight crew members and 139 passengers were on the Miami, Florida-bound train, Amtrak said.

The victims were identified as train engineer Michael Kempf, 54, of Savannah, Georgia, and a conductor, Michael Cella, 36 of Orange Park, Florida, according to Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fisher.

Amtrak Train 91 was heading southbound and should have continued straight along the tracks, but the rail switch had been manually set to send the train onto the rail siding, where the CSX train was parked, NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said Sunday.

"Key to that investigation is learning why that switch was lined that way," Sumwalt said.

Sumwalt said the crash could have been avoided if positive train control or PTC technology, which can automatically slow down a speeding train, had been in place.

Amtrak President and CEO Richard Anderson said the railroad is owned by CSX, which has complete control of the track, signals and switching where the crash occurred.

The CEO says the CSX dispatch center was manually directing the Amtrak train using telephone communications because the signal system along that section of the track was down.

Virginia

An Amtrak train carrying Congressional members, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, to a Republican retreat in West Virginia struck a garbage truck near Charlottesville, Virginia on Wednesday, killing at least one person.

Investigators looking into the crash are focusing on the actions of the driver of the truck, a source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN.

Eyewitnesses have told NTSB investigators the truck driver was seen trying to snake his way through the crossing gates, despite signals that included lights warning of the oncoming train, two sources with knowledge of the investigation told CNN.

Anderson told reporters on Sunday that the garbage truck bypassed the crossing signals in the Virginia collision. He said Amtrak and transportation and rail officials have to invest more in technology to make the crossings safer and educate people about them.

"The issue you had last week was highlighted because there were many Congressmen on that train," he told reporters. "But I can tell you that happens almost every day somewhere in America ... and it has to do with people trying to drive around the arms that are down -- just like this garbage truck did -- and ignoring the bells and whistles that are telling you to stop because a train's coming."

"What I just want to reaffirm is that Amtrak is fully committed and values safety as its highest priority," Anderson added.

North Carolina

Eugene Lyons, a pastor, and his wife, Dorothy, were killed in Nash County, North Carolina, when an Amtrak train hit their SUV on January 14, CNN affiliate WNCN reported. Both were in their 60s. It appears the SUV had driven around the lowered crossing arm, WNCN reported.

Whitakers police told the station a witness confirmed Dorothy Lyons was driving. Police didn't know then why she drove around the crossing arm.

The couple couldn't get out of the way in time to avoid the train, which was traveling about 55 miles per hour, the station reported. Both died at the scene.

Lyons' church stood about 200 yards from the train crossing, according to WNCN.

The Savannah, Georgia-bound train departed from New York City, Amtrak officials said.

Washington state

The Amtrak Cascades Train 501 derailed near DuPont in Washington on December 18 and hurtled over an overpass onto Interstate 5, killing three people on its inaugural journey from Seattle, Washington to Portland, Oregon.

The locomotive engineer told the NTSB the train was traveling at about 80 miles per hour as it passed milepost 15.5 on the route, the NTSB said. He told the investigators he had planned to start braking about a mile before an upcoming curve with a 30-mph speed restriction at milepost 19.8, the agency said.

The engineer said he saw mileposts 16 and 17, but did not recall seeing milepost 18 or the 30-mph advance speed sign two miles before the curve, the NTSB said.

"The engineer said that he did see the wayside signal at milepost 19.8 (at the accident curve) but mistook it for another signal, which was north of the curve," according to the NTSB.

The engineer saw the 30-mph sign at the entrance to the curve and applied the brakes shortly before the train derailed, tumbling off the overpass as it entered the curve, the NTSB said.

Read more about the NTSB update on the Amtrak derailment in Washington state

A CNN investigation found that engineers and conductors had warned their supervisors that they did not feel adequately trained on the new route, according to more than a dozen sources.

The NTSB has said PTC was not yet functional on the locomotive.

Railroad safety experts have pushed for PTC, and Congress passed a law mandating it in 2008. Railroad companies have until the end of 2018 -- or, the railroads are granted an extension, until the end of 2020 -- to implement PTC.

Amtrak has equipped 49% of its locomotives and 67% of its tracks with PTC, according to Federal Railroad Administration data from the second quarter of 2017.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 36287

Reported Deaths: 1249
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds299254
DeSoto195920
Madison148439
Jones122449
Harrison117716
Rankin112619
Neshoba104677
Forrest103843
Lauderdale96681
Scott82415
Jackson79819
Washington73713
Copiah67016
Leake63420
Lee62822
Oktibbeha61928
Grenada6049
Warren60021
Holmes59541
Lamar5837
Wayne56519
Yazoo5607
Lowndes54817
Leflore53456
Lincoln53335
Lafayette5064
Pike50520
Sunflower5048
Monroe46135
Panola4546
Covington4465
Simpson4433
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Tate39213
Attala38624
Newton37610
Adams35820
Pontotoc3556
Marion34512
Claiborne30811
Pearl River30332
Winston30111
Chickasaw30019
Marshall2923
Jasper2816
Noxubee2799
Walthall2708
Clay26111
Union25412
Smith25212
Coahoma2306
Clarke22325
Lawrence2132
Yalobusha2089
Tallahatchie1954
Kemper18414
Carroll18211
Montgomery1793
Calhoun1705
Humphreys16910
Hancock14813
Itawamba1478
Tippah14611
Webster13411
Jefferson1283
Prentiss1274
Jefferson Davis1254
Tunica1253
George1233
Greene11610
Amite1123
Alcorn1072
Tishomingo1061
Quitman1011
Wilkinson989
Perry914
Stone772
Choctaw764
Franklin542
Sharkey480
Benton470
Issaquena101
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 54768

Reported Deaths: 1096
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson6746170
Mobile4904140
Montgomery4547112
Tuscaloosa269053
Madison22689
Marshall198011
Shelby169125
Lee159637
Morgan13385
Baldwin127711
Walker107532
Elmore106721
Etowah101114
Dallas10029
DeKalb9677
Franklin93816
Autauga69815
Russell6860
Unassigned67928
Chambers67730
Butler65229
Limestone6393
Tallapoosa63069
Cullman6156
Houston6077
Lauderdale5776
St. Clair5443
Calhoun5155
Colbert5096
Escambia4888
Lowndes48422
Pike4795
Jackson4352
Coffee4284
Covington41612
Talladega4017
Barbour3992
Dale3951
Bullock37810
Hale35423
Marengo35411
Chilton3312
Blount3201
Clarke3176
Wilcox3038
Winston2995
Sumter29213
Marion29014
Pickens2746
Randolph2639
Monroe2603
Perry2502
Conecuh2318
Bibb2241
Macon2199
Choctaw21712
Greene1989
Henry1553
Washington1488
Lawrence1360
Crenshaw1323
Cherokee1247
Geneva980
Lamar891
Clay852
Fayette851
Coosa661
Cleburne451
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