Amtrak Crash In South Carolina Leaves 2 Dead, Over 100 Hurt

The Latest Safety system install had signals out in crash

Robert Sumwalt, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said Sunday afternoon that there's no evidence of foul play, although the FBI is assisting in the investigation.

Moreover, authorities say the crash could have been prevented with a GPS-based system called "positive train control", which knows the location of all trains and the positions of all switches in an area and is created to prevent two trains from traveling on the same track at the same time.

Positive train control is a system created to compensate for human error, such as leaving a train switch in the wrong position, officials said. Others described babies crying and other chaos after the train came to a stop.

Federal investigators are trying to figure out why a switch was in the wrong position, sending an Amtrak train into a CSX freight train and killing a conductor and an engineer and injuring 116 others in SC. Several freight railroads have previously told the government they won't be able to meet the 2018 deadline. "CSX maintains all of the tracks and signal systems", the company said. Amtrak released a statement on the train collision saying, "Amtrak is working to take care of everyone who was on the train, including family members of our passengers and crew". In December, three people died and dozens were injured outside Seattle when 13 Amtrak train cars derailed and dangled off a bridge. Richard Blumenthal of CT said the nation's railroads must be made safer, declaring, "Business as usual must end".

The Amtrak train was supposed to continue south on the main track, but a switch diverted it to the siding. Richard Blumenthal said "inaction is inexcusable".

Sumwalt told reporters he had not been briefed about what the CSX workers said. The signal system, operated by CSX, was not functioning and the train's movements were being managed by a CSX dispatcher, Anderson said.

More than 100 people were injured, and eight of them remained hospitalized Monday. Other passengers were bleeding.

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TV footage from the scene showed the aftermath of the crash, with the Amtrak engine on its side and its front crumpled.

The passenger train's locomotive was left lying on its side, and the first auto was bent and also derailed, although it remained upright, images from the scene showed. Two patients remain in critical condition and two are in serious condition.

Amtrak engineer Michael Kempf, 54, of Savannah, Georgia, and conductor Michael Cella, 36, of Orange Park, Florida, were killed, Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fisher told reporters. It was the third fatal Amtrak train crash in less than two months.

"Any time you have anything that happens like that, you expect more fatalities". Autopsies were underway, she said.

On Wednesday, a chartered Amtrak train carrying Republican members of Congress to a retreat slammed into a garbage truck in rural Virginia, killing one person in the truck and injuring six others. It was going almost 80 miles per hour (128 kph), more than twice the speed limit.

With the recent string of crashes, "it's becoming nearly like an epidemic for Amtrak", said Najmedin Meshkati, a University of Southern California engineering professor who has studied positive train control.

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