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2 Amtrak Employees Dead After Train Crashes, Derails in S.C.

An Amtrak train traveling from New York to Miami crashed with a freight train in South Carolina early Sunday, killing two people and injuring 116 others.Amtrak said there were 139 passengers and eight crew on Train 91 when it struck a CSX train at 2:35 a.m., just a few miles from Columbia, South Carolina, in the town of Cayce. The freight train was parked on a loading or switch track, McMaster said, while the Amtrak train was moving at about 59 mph. Timeline: Deadly Passenger Train Accidents in US Both people who died were Amtrak employees who were in the train engine. The county coroner identified the dead as engineer Michael Kempf, 46, of Savannah, Georgia, and conductor Michael Cella, 36, of Orange Park, Florida.  Eagles, Patriots Ready to Face Off in Super Bowl LII South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said it appeared the Amtrak train was on the wrong track, although an investigation would determine the precise cause. “They weren’t supposed to be meeting, clearly,” McMaster said. “There may be a timing factor.” 4 California Lawmakers Accused of Misconduct; None Punished Amtrak said in a statement that CSX owns and controls the subdivision where the trains crashed, maintains the tracks and signal systems there, and handles the dispatching of all trains. The CSX signals had been offline and the Amtrak train was given verbal approval by CSX to proceed down the tracks, railroad sources familiar with the investigation told NBC News. But the switch on those tracks was in the wrong position, sending the Amtrak train into the parked CSX train, the sources said. There was no positive train control, a system designed to prevent crashes, on the track at that location, the sources said. The impact caused the lead engine of the Amtrak train to derail as well as some passenger cars. Video from the scene showed the twisted and gnarled wreckage of several CSX cars. About 5,000 gallons of fuel spilled as a result of the crash and authorities said crews were working to clean it up. Officials said there was no immediate danger to the public.A total of 116 people were brought to local hospitals, McMaster said. Most of those were minor injuries. One person was critically injured and two were in serious condition, a Palmetto Health hospital official said. Most of the passengers were expected to be treated and released. They suffered cuts, scrapes and bruises, authorities said. Jaclyn Kinney, 22, of Pinehurst, North Carolina, said she and her boyfriend were asleep on the train as they traveled to Orlando for a trip to Disney World. She said they woke up to the crash. “We got bumped into the wall from the impact and the train derailed,” she told NBC via Twitter. “The cafe car that was right in front of us was in much worse shape so we were lucky.”She said Amtrak staff helped them off the train and checked to make sure the passengers were OK.Kinney said she and her boyfriend suffered minor injuries.Another passenger, Derek Pettaway, said he was asleep and hit his head on the side of the sleeper cabin during the crash. He suffered a bump on the head, minor whiplash and other bruises. He described seeing the engine toppled on its side and the cafe car “completely folded in half.”Anyone with questions about passengers on the train can call (800) 523-9101, Amtrak said. The Red Cross tweeted that “disaster trained volunteers” were responding to the scene of the accident. The National Transportation Safety Board also launched a team to tend to the site. South Carolina emergency officials said that all passengers were off the train by of 6:30 a.m.Amtrak’s “Silver Service” is an overnight line that connects New York and Miami with dozens of local stops along the way. The train departed from Penn Station at 11:00 a.m. Saturday. President Donald Trump was briefed on the crash and tweeted his condolences, saying his thoughts and prayers are with the victims. He also thanked first responders for their work.It was the second major Amtrak crash in less than a week and the third since December. On Wednesday, a train carrying Republican members of Congress to a retreat slammed into a garbage truck in rural Virginia. One person on the truck was killed. Three people were killed and more than 70 others were hurt when a train careened off a bridge outside Tacoma, Washington, on Amtrak’s inaugural run on a new route for its Cascades service on Dec. 18.-NBC reporter Tom Costello contributed to this report. Photo Credit: WIS This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.
Source: NBC San Diego

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