The derailment of Train 89 sent yet another shock to Philadelphia-area commuters and those who travel along the New York City to Washington D.C. corridor. The seeming frequency of train derailments and serious train accidents inflicting injuries ranging from mild to moderate to life-altering or life-ending is a fact that must weigh heavily on the mind of all riders of trains regardless of the railroad company. Travel by train is supposed to be safe and affordable. Unfortunately, incidents affecting travel by rail seems to continue to dent this reputation. It is unclear whether there is a single factor linking all of these accidents.
How Did the Train 89 Derailment Outside of Philadelphia Occur?
Investigators have uncovered many of the basic details regarding the Amtrak 89 crash. However, many other facts and information still remain to be uncovered or unveiled. To start, the basic scenario of the accident unfolded when Amtrak Train 89 was traveling southbound on the morning of April 3, 2016. The train was traveling at relatively high speed when it collided with a backhoe present on the tracks. The impact caused by the train en route to Georgia was significant and passengers describe the windows of the train blowing out due the forces involved. Steve Forbes, a former presidential candidate was aboard the last car of the train and described the accident as “It was a matter of nanoseconds, but you felt the train was coming to a screeching halt, then it eased up a bit, then another screech. There was coffee flying everywhere. There was the smell of smoke.” One woman reported seeing a window fall out of the train and onto another passenger. Other passengers reported complained of back pain or used their clothes as makeshift tourniquets to stop bleeding.
The train crash tragically killed the two maintenance workers who were present on the backhoe. Approximately 35 other passengers suffered injuries in the collision.
Unfortunately, this is where the information that we know and currently understand ends. It is still unclear why the piece of construction equipment was present on an active track. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) arrived on the scene just hours after the accident. NTSB is analyzing the train’s data recorded and additional video recordings to attempt to determine this and other facts surrounding the crash.
How is the Derailment of the Palmetto Different From the Derailment of Train 188?
We can actually start with a similarity between this latest crash and the crash of train 188. That is the exact cause of the mistake that made the accident unavoidable is not abundantly clear. However, the accidents did occur under differing sets of circumstances. In this accident, something apparently went wrong with Amtrak’s 20-step process required to secure clearance to place maintenance equipment on the tracks. It is not clear whether miscommunication or a failure to follow this steps are to blame. By contrast, the accident involving Train 188 almost certainly involves some mistake or medical event involving the train’s engineer. Train 188 was traveling at greater than twice the 50 miles per hour speed limit when it derailed on a sharp curve.
The injury and death toll in the two accidents also differs significantly. The Train 188 wreck was significantly more deadly. Train 188’s crash killed 8 passengers and injured more than 200. The wreckage of Train 188 was also significantly more shocking with several cars appearing to be ripped apart. Train 89’s crash produced a significant injury and death toll, however, the overall impact does not approach that of Train 188.
Unfortunately, these crashes are only two in seven crashes that have occurred since 2011. An Amtrak crash on a Vermont to Washington D.C. train in October 2015 occurred when the train hit rocks that had fallen onto the tracks. In March 2015, 55 people were injured after a New Jersey to North Carolina Train hit a tractor-trailer stuck on the tracks. In June 2014, an Amtrak train hit a vehicle that was driving on the tracks while traveling southwest of Boston. In October 2012, about 12 people were hurt after a Chicago to Pontiac train derailed. Also in October 2012, 20 passengers suffered mild to moderate injuries after a train struck a commercial truck in California. Finally, in June 2011, a truck crashed into a train at a crossing to the east of Reno Nevada causing at least 20 injuries and six deaths.
Injured in an Amtrak Accident? Contact a Philadelphia Train Accident Attorney of The Reiff Law Firm
If you have been severely injured by an Amtrak derailment or a train crash on any other carrier, the personal injury lawyers of The Reiff Law Firm may be able to fight for you. To schedule a free and confidential consultation call (215) 246-9000 today or contact us online.