Another Truck, Passenger Train Wreck
HALIFAX, N.C. (AP) — An Amtrak train slammed into a tractor-trailer that got stuck on the tracks while trying to make a difficult left-hand turn Monday. One of the train's cars toppled and the conductor and at least 54 others were injured.
It was the third serious train crash in less than two months. Two deadly crashes in New York and California in February killed a total of seven people and injured 30.
The oversized flatbed trailer involved in Monday's crash was transporting a modular building wrapped in blue plastic and jammed with electrical equipment, said Lt. Jeff Gordon, a spokesman for the North Carolina State Highway Patrol.
One of the troopers escorting the truck from Clayton, North Carolina, to the Virginia border was trying to help the driver negotiate a difficult left-hand turn across the tracks onto a two-lane highway in the town of Halifax, Gordon said. But the 164-foot tractor-trailer combination, longer than half a football field, couldn't navigate it, he said.
During the five minutes or so the trooper and driver spent attempting to get the truck turned and off the tracks, there was no indication of an approaching train, Gordon said. When the train appeared, it set off warning flashers and the crossing arms came down as the truck was still straddling the tracks, he said. The train hit the truck shortly afterward, Gordon said.
.He said the truck was unable to back off the tracks before the train hit because traffic had backed up on the road behind him.
State transportation officials said 54 of the injured were taken to hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries after Monday's crash. They said one had more serious injuries. Details were not immediately available. Among the injured was the train's conductor, Gordon said.
On Feb. 7 in New York, the driver of an SUV and five train passengers were killed in a collision in Valhalla, about 20 miles north of New York City. That crash happened after the driver of the SUV had stopped on the tracks, between the lowered crossing gates, for reasons still unclear to investigators.
On Feb. 24 in California, the engineer of a Southern commuter train was killed and 30 people were injured when the train struck a heavy pickup truck and trailer that had been abandoned on the tracks in Oxnard, about 65 miles northwest of Los Angeles.