Law enforcement officials from Mississippi say they have launched an investigation into an accident that occurred early last week that left six people injured and the engine of an Amtrak train derailed. The crash occurred just outside of Tchula, MS when an Amtrak City of New Orleans train collided with a tractor-trailer.
A spokesperson for Amtrak said that at the time of the crash the train was on its way to New Orleans and had 152 passengers and 11 crew on board. The collision occurred just after 9:30 in the morning when the train hit the back of an 18-wheeler hauling corn that was stopped on the railroad track. The force of the accident was great enough to derail the engine of the Amtrak train. Officials with the state’s emergency management office said that six people sustained injuries as a result of the crash, including two Amtrak employees and four passengers.
According to Amtrak officials, the collision occurred at a marked public crossing. Investigators say they do not yet know how the tractor-trailer came to be on the track at the time of collision, but say they are launching an investigation to piece together the events.
It might surprise people that an accident like this would happen at a marked public crossing, but the fact is such collisions are far from rare. As a matter of fact, last year there were just about 2,000 individual accidents at railroad crossings. Among these crashes, 235 deaths occurred as well as more than 900 injuries.
The fact is that railroad crossings are especially dangerous places, even if they are marked. The reason is that many crossings contain obstacles that can obscure sight lines of approaching vehicles. For example, steep roads that approach the crossing, nearby buildings or even trees can also prevent approaching cars from spotting an oncoming train.
Despite these obvious risks, the fact is that across the country only 35 percent of railroad crossings have gate arms. This is a real shame given that studies have proven the gate arms can lead to dramatic increases in safety at the crossings. Some surveys even found that gate arms are between 80 and 90 percent more effective at preventing crashes than a simple marked railroad crossing sign.
If you’ve been injured in a train accident, whether it’s on Amtrak, CSX, Norfolk Southern, BNSF or another carrier, and are wondering about what your next step should be, considering reading through some of the frequently asked questions prepared by attorneys at our firm. The FAQs address some basic but important questions about railroad accident and injury claims.
Here's a Google Map showing the location of the Amtrak crash: