Skooter reporting 10/02/12
Two rail cars and the locomotive of an Amtrak train transporting about 169 passengers derailed Monday after running into with a big rig truck in California's Central Valley, authorities said. About 20 passengers suffered non-life threatening injuries, such as bumps, bruises, scrapes and possibly broken bones, authorities said.
The train was heading from Oakland to Bakersfield, according to Amtrak. It had four rail cars and a locomotive. The crash happened when the driver of the tractor-trailer hauling cotton trash failed to give way and hit the train, authorities said. The collision pushed the two passenger cars and the locomotive off the tracks south of Hanford, a farming town.
According to California Highway Patrol Officer Scott Harris, the train traveled about 600 feet after the impact before striking a switchback and derailing.
Officials didn’t know how fast the train or the truck were traveling, but the average speed for Amtrak on the area is 70 to 80 mph, while the speed limit on the roadway where the truck was traveling is 55 mph, Harris said.
Metal pieces from the truck could be seen inside the train after the collision which was covered by cotton seeds. Several pieces of luggage were also strewn around the area.
The eight injured passengers were brought to Adventist Medical Center in Hanford and another five were expected, said hospital spokeswoman Christine Pickering. Details on the extent of the injuries were not provided. At the nearby Adventist Medical Center in Selma, four additional injured passengers were admitted, while seven others were taken to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, officials said.
The truck driver suffered minor injuries and other passengers were brought to an auditorium in Hanford, where they will board a train and proceed to their destination, according to California Highway Patrol spokesman Jerry Pierce.
Investigators will try to find out if the crash was caused by driver error, a malfunctioning crossing arm, or something else, the CHP said.