The lead rail of an Amtrak train operating from New York City to Savannah, Georgia, derailed early Sunday morning after striking a piece of construction equipment south of Philadelphia in Chester, Delaware County. Chester police have advised that the accident has reportedly caused the death of two persons and left about 35 more persons injured.
ABC News reported that it was a backhoe on the tracks between Booth Street and Highland Avenue in Chester, Pennsylvania, which caused the deadly crash along the busy Northeast Corridor at approximately 7:53 a.m. this morning and reported by 8 a.m. The train did not immediately stop after striking the backhoe and but continued until it reached the a neighbouring town.
Passengers relayed that they had felt a jolt when train crashed causing the lead train engine to derail and they also witnessed a small explosion. Immediately after the cars all went silent before passengers were directed to evacuate the Amtrak train. SEPTA provided buses to transport the healthy passengers and Stephen Gardner, the Executive Vice President of Amtrak, advised that all the passengers would be taken to Philadelphia.
Amtrak released a statement advising that the train which crashed, Palmetto 89, had about 341 passengers and seven crew members on board. The two persons who died because of the crash were not passengers but were actually outside of the train and either near or on the backhoe at the time. Ruth Miller, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Emergency Management, actually stated that one of the two persons killed was the operator of the backhoe and the other a personnel.
The identities of the two persons killed has not yet been released.
No members of the crew on the Amtrak train were injured when it derailed. However, there were 35 injuries reported amongst the passengers, but fortunately, New York Daily News has stated that all of them are allegedly non-life-threatening injuries. Emergency personnel responded to the scene and did what they could for the injured, treating them at a local Trainer United Methodist church before they were transported to a local hospital. All 35 passengers who were injured are believed to only be going to the hospital to get checked out and will not require extensive treatment.
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) and Amtrak had jointly decided to suspend all trains travelling along the Wilmington-Newark Line earlier in the day. SEPTA had tweeted that information and also advised that “alternate service suggestions were available online.” This meant that all service between New York City and Philadelphia had ceased to operate and it impacted any trains that attempted to head north from D.C. or Maryland. The delay to Sunday travellers is expected to be temporary and the aim is to resume travel by late Sunday afternoon but thus far, it is unknown when exactly SEPTA and Amtrak will resume services.
The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Railroad Administration officials were notified and called to the scene. The NTSB will be heading the investigation into the crash.
This latest crash and engine derailment comes almost a year after another Amtrak incident in Philadelphia. On May 12, 2015 a speeding train derailed going around curved tracks, eight persons were killed while over 200 suffered from injuries. The results of that NTSB investigation are still inconclusive.
Any family members or friends of the passengers ho were on the crashed AMtrak train and wish to be advised of their status and being told to contact a special Amtrak hotline for information by dialling 800-523-9101.
[Photo Courtesy of AP Images]