CAYCE, SOUTH CAROLINA (February 4, 2017) – An Amtrak conductor that was killed in a terrible accident on Sunday was identified as 36 year old Michael Cella, according to a local news source. (map)
The accident happened early Sunday morning as Amtrak train 91 was en route from New York to Miami. As the train approached a section of track in Cayce, South Carolina, a manually operated switch caused the train to divert onto a section of track already occupied by a parked CSX freight train. The Amtrak collided with the freight train, causing the lead locomotive to derail completely, and several of the passenger cars jumped the rails as well.
The conductor in the Amtrak train, identified as Michael Cella, was tragically killed. Cella was a married father of two small children that was described as being a “family man” that was “always smiling” by friends. He attended the Amtrak conductor school in 2008, and had been working for Amtrak for a while. On board the engine with Cella was the train’s engineer, 54 year old Michael Kempf, who was also tragically killed.
The Amtrak was traveling along a section of track that was under manual control by CSX, due to a broken signal system. CSX was in telephone contact with the train, and was in control of tracks, signals, and switches at the time of the accident. It is unknown why the Amtrak train was diverted onto the section of track that was already occupied by the parked freight train. The CSX train had just finished unloading automobiles, and nobody was on board the train at the time of the accident.
Aside from the two Amtrak employees that were killed, 116 people suffered injuries ranging from scrapes and bruises, to broken bones. The absence of Positive Train Control on the tracks is already under scrutiny, as a similar absence of PTC in the recent Washington state derailment was noted. PTC is a system that is designed to slow or stop a train automatically if it senses an impending derailment or collision, and all tracks are federally required to have PTC installed by the end of 2018, or 2020 in some rare cases.
Sunday’s accident is reportedly already under investigation by the NTSB, but complicated investigations like this can take up almost two years to complete. It is unknown if the train was traveling at or under the posted 59 MPH speed limit at the time of the crash, or whether the train was braking prior to the accident. Details are still being released, and Lexton Law will continue to update this article as more information is released.
“The prayers of everyone at Lexton Law Firm are with the families and friends of those killed and injured in this horrible accident. Our firm deals with train accidents, and our attorneys have knowledge of railroad related accidents,” said the attorneys from Lexton Law Firm. Call us today at (877) 541-2111. We are here to help you.