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Amtrak Train Collides With Semi, Derails in Southeastern Utah

Amtrak Train Collides With Semi, Derails in Southeastern Utah



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KSL TV/SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Jennifer Down, Train Passenger: "When we hit it I felt it. I knew that we hit something. Because I've had friends that died, that was my first instinct. It just felt like they hit the brakes real hard, and then we saw the truck rolling over on the side."

An Amtrak train collides with a semi in Southeastern Utah. One person is dead and two others injured. The collision caused the front wheel of the Amtrak engine to derail. Crews are on the scene trying to fix it.

Amtrak Train Collides With Semi, Derails in Southeastern Utah

The California Zephyr was carrying 119 passengers from Emeryville, Calif., to Chicago when it hit the truck at a train crossing, just south of Interstate 70, about 46 miles east of Green River, said Amtrak spokeswoman Vernae Graham. The crossing has only warning signs, said Graham, who is based in Oakland, Calif.

The train hit a semi-truck that services oil rigs in, and traveled about one-half mile down the track before coming to a stop, said Chief Deputy Curt Brewer of the Grand County sheriff's office. It appeared the truck was trying to cross the tracks in front of the approaching train, he said.

The truck was driving on a small country road when it was hit by the train. It is unclear at this time if the truck was stopped on the track or just didn't see or hear the train coming. The train collided with the truck, killing the driver instantly.

A crane had to be brought in to lift up the train and get the frame of the truck out from under the train. The train is now on its way.

Amtrak Train Collides With Semi, Derails in Southeastern Utah

Killed in the crash was the 26-year-old truck driver, Brewer said. The man's name was not immediately released.

There were 119 passengers on the Amtrak train. We are told five of them suffered minor injuries and one had to be taken to the hospital.

Passengers were kept on the train for several hours during the investigation.

The Federal Railroad Administration decided Wednesday night it will investigate the wreck, said spokesman Steve Kulm. The agency does not investigate all train crashes.

Amtrak Train Collides With Semi, Derails in Southeastern Utah

Typically, there has to be a large number of fatalities or a heightened public interest for the administration to investigate if there are no train crossing signals under the agency's jurisdiction at the crash site, he said. Kulm did not say specifically why the agency chose to investigate this case.

"There were some injuries to passengers there and my understanding is the locomotive derailed in a sense that one wheel came off the track," Kulm said. "We've just made the decision to go forward on this."

In a typical investigation, federal officials will examine a locomotive record that's similar to an airplane's black box, examine track conditions and speak with any additional witnesses, Kulm said.

Utah Department of Public Safety truck inspectors have been asked to help with the investigation, said Utah Highway Patrol Lt. Doug McCleve. Inspectors will determine if the truck's brakes and other mechanical systems were functioning properly.

We don't know at this point the exact cause of the crash. There are no railroad crossing arms or flashing light, just warning signs. Again, it is a very small road in a very remote area of Utah. We do not know what the truck was carrying.

Amtrak Train Collides With Semi, Derails in Southeastern Utah

There had been 26 train wrecks this year in Utah through September, the most recent statistics available from the Federal Railroad Administration. Only one of those accidents involved a passenger train.

Seven passengers were hurt in the May crash of the Heber Valley Railroad in Wasatch County near Charleston.

In January, the California Zephyr derailed in Colorado near the Utah line. The train was carrying more than 100 people when it ran into a pickup-size boulder. Six people were hurt, none seriously.

Amtrak Train Collides With Semi, Derails in Southeastern Utah

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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