Last year, the Amtrak 188 train crashed and killed eight people when it derailed. And this year, Amtrak has experienced another tragedy just south of Philadelphia.
The train, which was traveling to Washington, D.C. with 341 passengers on board, slammed into a backhoe just south of Philadelphia last week. The impact and subsequent derailment killed two Amtrak workers and injured 35 passengers. The backhoe, which is a machine used for train track maintenance, was clearing debris from the high winds that occurred the night before. According to reports, passengers heard a bang, felt the train jump and saw the fire start at the front of the train. Some were thrown forward during the impact.
According to reports, the two workers who lost their lives were a 61-year-old who was operating the backhoe and a 59-year-old, who was the worker’s supervisor. The main question is why were the two even working near the tracks? Why was the train even continuing its route when two workers were on the track? Why didn’t the workers move if they knew the train was coming right for them? As of yet, no information has been released on who exactly was authorized to be working on the track at the time of the train crash.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is conducting an investigation to determine if the crash was due to mechanical malfunction, operator error or if a signal on the track was experiencing an error. The NTSB is expected to release its findings by summer.
One week prior to this tragedy, an Amtrak train struck and killed a man in Sacramento, California. Though, Amtrak released a statement saying the man was not crossing in a designated crossing section. On the same day the Amtrak train slammed into the backhoe, a car driver was killed when another Amtrak train collided into his car at a railroad crossing. This incident is currently under investigation. In Philadelphia, a pedestrian lost his leg in a horrible Amtrak train accident. However, Amtrak called this a “trespassing incident.”
Amtrak needs to accept that the rate of accidents has jumped in recent years. The company transports more than 30 million people each year and is responsible for each life. Amtrak needs to reevaluate its safety measures and determine where improvements can be made.
Koonz, McKenney, Johnson, DePaolis & Lightfoot, L.L.P. is a personal injury law firm that helps victims of transportation accidents in Washington, D.C., Greenbelt, Maryland and Fairfax, Virginia.