Tamela Mann - Overcomer

Death Toll in Missouri Amtrak Train Derailment Rises to Four as Investigation Begins

A worker inspects the scene of an Amtrak train that derailed after striking a dump truck Monday near Mendon, Mo. (Charlie Riedel/AP)

Federal investigators said Tuesday their investigation into a deadly collision between an Amtrak train and a dump truck in rural Missouri is focused on the “passive crossing” that allowed vehicles on a gravel road to readily move across a section of track with a 90 mph speed limit.

Speaking at a school a few miles from the site of a collision that left four people dead and injured more than 100, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chair Jennifer Homendy said a contractor’s truck carrying materials for a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project drove into the path of the Southwest Chief that was headed for Chicago.

Missouri State Highway Patrol officials said Tuesday that a third passenger on the train died at a hospital of injuries suffered in the derailment, increasing the death toll to four. An occupant of the dump truck also was killed. Authorities said about 150 people were taken to 10 hospitals for treatment of injuries that range from minor to serious in nature.

While there were railroad crossing signs at the site, Homendy said Tuesday, “there were no arms, there were not warning lights, there were no bells,” adding that such setups are common across the country. There are about 130,000 such “passive” crossings nationwide — about half of all crossings in the United States, she said.

Investigators are continuing to interview members of the train’s crew and are downloading footage from two forward-facing cameras. They are downloading the contents of an event recorder to determine the train’s speed and how the brakes were applied. They are also seeking to retrieve information from electronics on the truck.

Homendy said she does not have reason to believe any type of mechanical or track problem was at play.

“Our concerns are very focused on this grade crossing, the approach to the grade crossing and survivability after an accident,” Homendy said.

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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Kim Mueller, Michael Laris, Justin George and Luz Lazo

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