Motorists in Ohio are familiar with truck accidents on highways caused by reckless or inattentive truck drivers. However, a recent accident involving Congressional Republican House leaders traveling on an Amtrak train shows that these accidents are not limited to roadways or with other vehicles.
On January 31, GOP leaders, staff and family members were traveling on a train to an annual Congressional Republican retreat at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the train was traveling around 61 miles per hour when its engineer activated the emergency brake as it approached a crossing in Crozet, Virginia.
The train struck the left rear of a trash truck, carrying a driver and two passengers, that was on the railroad tracks at the crossing. The force of the crash made the truck spin counterclockwise and hit a railroad signal bungalow. Two passengers were propelled out of the truck. The truck was decimated and fell apart into a debris field. The train remained upright and remained on the track after the crash, except that the front axle of the lead locomotive derailed.
A 28-year-old truck passenger was killed in the collision. Rep. Jason Lewis (R-Minn.), a passenger on the train, was treated at the hospital for minor injuries and was later released. Three Amtrak employees were also injured.
The video camera on the front of the train showed that the crossing gates were down as the train approached the crossing. Witnesses told NTSB investigators that the truck drove onto the crossing after the gates were lowered.
The NTSB issued a preliminary report on the crash in February. It said that trash truck driver maneuvered his vehicle around rail crossing safety gates and onto the tracks. This action placed him and his passengers into the path of the Amtrak train.
Source: The Washington Post, “NTSB releases preliminary report on crash between Amtrak train carrying GOP leaders and trash truck,” Lori Aratani, Feb. 21, 2018