At least three people were killed and dozens more injured after an Amtrak train traveling from Los Angeles to Chicago with 243 passengers aboard struck a dump truck and derailed in rural Missouri on Monday, authorities said, the second major incident in two days for the passenger railroad service.
Amtrak said that several cars of the company’s Southwest Chief train came off the tracks after colliding with a dump truck at 12:42 pm in Mendon, Missouri, about 84 miles northeast of Kansas City. Seven of the train’s eight cars derailed, said Cpl. Justin Dunn, public information officer at Missouri State Highway Patrol, at a Monday news conference.
Dunn confirmed two people died on the train and one died in the truck.
Lt. Eric Brown of the Missouri State Highway Patrol said he had “no idea on the number of injured at this point,” but hospitals reported receiving more than 40 patients from the crash and were expecting more.
The crash occurred at an “uncontrolled intersection” on a gravel road without lights or electronic controls, Brown told reporters. “A lot of your rural intersections are that way,” he said.
Mike Spencer, who grows corn and soybeans on the land surrounding the intersection where the crash occurred, said everyone in Mendon understands that the intersection is dangerous, especially for those driving heavy, slow farm equipment. The approach to the tracks is on an inclining gravel road and it’s difficult to see trains coming in either direction, he said.
Spencer said he had contacted state transportation officials, Chariton County commissioners and BNSF Railway about the potential danger. Spencer, who is on the board of a local levy district, said the dump truck driver was hauling rock for a levy on a local creek, a project that had been ongoing for a couple days.
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The National Transportation Safety Board said monday that it was launching a 14-member go-team to investigate Monday’s derailment.
It’s too early to speculate on why the truck was on the tracks, said National Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman Jennifer Homendy. A team of NTSB investigators will arrive Tuesday, she said. Trains won’t run be able to run on the track for “a matter of days” while they gather evidence, she added.
Helicopter video of the site from KMBC-TV in Kansas City showed rail cars on their side as emergency responders used ladders to climb into one of them. Six medical helicopters parked nearby were waiting to transport patients.
Close to 20 local and state law enforcement agencies, ambulance services, fire department and medical hopitical services responded, Dunn said.
Passengers on the train included 16 youths and eight adults from two Boy Scout troops who were traveling home to Appleton, Wisconsin, after a backcountry excursion at the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, but no one in the group was seriously injured, said Scott Armstrong , director of national media relations for the Boy Scouts of America. The Scouts administered first aid to several injured passengers, including the driver of the dump truck, Armstrong said.
High school students from Pleasant Ridge High School in Easton, Kansas, who were headed to a Future Business Leaders of America conference in Chicago, were also aboard, Superintendent Tim Beying told The Kansas City Star.
Amtrak is a federally supported company that operates more than 300 passenger trains daily in nearly every contiguous US state and parts of Canada. The Southwest Chief takes about two days to travel from Los Angeles to Chicago, picking up passengers at stops in between.
The accident comes one day after a deadly crash in Brentwood, California, where an Amtrak commuter train slammed into a vehicle at an unmarked crossing. Three people inside the vehicle were killed and three others injured, but none of the 80 Amtrak passengers were injured, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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