Friday, 17 August, 2018

SC train crash leaves at least 2 dead, 50 hurt

The location of the crash in Cayce South Carolina The location of the crash in Cayce South Carolina
Ray Hunter | 08 February, 2018, 00:53

"It appears that Amtrak was on the wrong track", South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster said at a press conference.

He said the question for investigators is why that happened.

The system that operates the train signals in the area was down, so CSX Corp. - the freight railroad operator which runs that stretch of track - was manually operating the signals.

Rich says he did receive a call from Amtrak this morning confirming that his brother was not at fault.

The passenger train was part of Amtrak' Silver Star Service, and the wreck occurred about 5 miles (8 km) southwest of Columbia.

Sumwalt, a Columbia resident in town when the accident occurred, said a safety system known as "positive train control" could have saved lives in the accident, as it could with other train wrecks across the country.

Positive train control is a system created to compensate for human error, such as leaving a train switch in the wrong position, officials said.

The conductor and engineer aboard the Amtrak locomotive were killed. Of the 116 people taken to four hospitals, only eight remained in the hospital Monday.

The main trauma hospital in the area had three patients in critical or serious condition, with the rest treated for minor injuries such as cuts, bruises and whiplash, Palmetto Health director of emergency preparedness Dr Steve Shelton said. "I think we're just happy to be together".

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The freight train engines were "all torn up" and the Amtrak engine was "barely recognizable" from the crash. Sumwalt said there was "no way" the Amtrak train could have stopped to avoid a collision.

"It's a awful thing to see - to understand the force that this involved", he said.

The Amtrak train's event recorder found seven seconds before the crash, the train's horn was activated as it traveled 56 miles per hour down the track. "Our crew on 91 was cleared to proceed by CSX dispatch, but CSX had lined and padlocked the switch off the mainline to the siding, causing the collision". Those who weren't hurt were taken in patrol cars to a shelter, and local businesses provided coffee and breakfast.

Both Cella and Michael Kempf were in the first vehicle of the train at the time of the wreck, said Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fisher.

"Any time you have anything that happens like that, you expect more fatalities".

In December, an Amtrak train derailed in Washington state, leaving three people dead and dozens injured. Autopsies were being conducted, she said. She described the scene as chaotic when the trains collided.

In 2008, Congress mandated the implementation of PTC nationwide by the end of 2015, then extended that deadline until the end of 2018.

Conn. Sen. Richard Blumenthal tweeted: "America's railroads must be made safer". He said proven technology such as positive train control can not continue to be delayed.

As they begin to probe the circumstances of the fatal wreck in SC, officials have already settled on one thing: that the crash between a passenger train and a freight vehicle could have been prevented with technology already installed in parts of the U.S.

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