Near Cayce, SC – An Amtrak train traveling from New York to Miami crashed into a freight train early Sunday, killing at least two people, injuring at least 116 others.
According to officials, it appears the Amtrak train was on the wrong track and failed to obey a signal when it hit the stationary CSX freight train, which had no-one on board, spilling thousands of gallons of fuel. Crews are working to secure the spill, which, reportedly, poses no danger to the nearby area.
According to a statement, Amtrak said the lead engine derailed, as well as some passenger cars. There were 8 crew members and approximately 139 passengers, with injuries reported.
The Lexington County Coroner identified the victims as 54-year-old engineer Michael Kempf and the conductor, 36-year-old Michael Cella.
SC Governor McMaster said the first engine of the freight train was “torn up”, while the engine on the Amtrak train is “barely recognizable.”
Hospital officials said most of those injured have already been discharged.
It was the second major crash involving an Amtrak train in less than a week. On Wednesday, a train carrying Republican members of Congress to a retreat in West Virginia hit a garbage truck in rural Virginia, killing a passenger in the truck.
In recent years, Amtrak has had an average of two derailments a month.
The head of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said Sunday that the correct implementation of a key train safety feature could have prevented the early morning Amtrak crash in South Carolina.
Chairman Robert Sumwalt said at a press conference that the implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC), which automatically decreases the speed of a train traveling over the limit, could have prevented the collision that left two people dead and dozens of others injured.
Railroads have until the end of 2018 to enact the costly safety feature, which lawmakers typically push for following deadly crashes.