An Amtrak train loaded with more than 200 passengers heading to Chicago struck a vehicle on the tracks in southwestern Michigan and derailed late last Thursday (Nov. 16), injuring many passengers.
The head of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Jennifer Homendy reportedly traveled to Michigan to view the scene. The vehicle that was struck was unoccupied at the time because it was in the process of being removed by a tow truck that also was involved in the crash. Although the train reportedly remained upright, a fire ensued at the scene. Some people on the ground reportedly had to dash for safety. It also is reported that the engineer and at least 10 people required treatment.
It is being questioned whether the engineer was aware that a vehicle was on the tracks.
“Once again Amtrak is speeding along, apparently unable to stop a train that hundreds of passengers rely on for a safe trip,” said Robert A. Clifford, founder and senior partner of Clifford Law Offices in Chicago. “Where is positive train control [PTC] that should be equipped on every train that would automatically protect passengers from these types of collisions through warning systems?”
The incident occurred in Berrien County, about 70 miles east of Chicago. Uninjured passengers reportedly were taken to New Buffalo High School where some were picked up by family and friends, while others were taken by buses to its final destination in Chicago.
The train began its journey just before the early Thanksgiving rush from Pontiac, Michigan, and derailed in New Buffalo, not far from the Indiana border. At least eight commuter trains were canceled while the investigation continued.