CAYCE, SOUTH CAROLINA (February 4, 2017) – An Amtrak train crashed into a CSX freight train in South Carolina on Sunday morning, claiming the lives of two Amtrak employees, according to a local news source. (map)
Amtrak train 91, en route from NY to Miami with over 150 people on board, crashed into a CSX freight train early Sunday morning around 2:35 am. The Amtrak, which was reportedly manually diverted onto a section of track already occupied by the parked freight train, partially derailed following the crash. CSX was manually controlling the signals, switches and rails at the time of the accident, due to a malfunctioning automatic signal system.
Michael Kempf, a 54 year old man from Orange Park, Florida, was the train engineer on duty at the time of the accident. Kempf, along with his coworker Michael Cella, were both tragically killed in the collision. Kempf was an Army Veteran that had served for 20 years before retiring. He had been involved in the railroad industry for 10 years, and had been with Amtrak in particular for 6 years. He had recently told friends and family that he was concerned about being involved in a deadly rail accident due to the recent rash of accidents, and budget tightening. Michael Kempf had three sons and had also been caring for his mother since his father’s death 12 years prior.
The accident is under intense scrutiny, as this is the second major Amtrak crash in the last two months. In December, an Amtrak derailed off an overpass in Washington State after speeding through a curve at almost three times the posted limit, killing three people and injuring dozens more. A lack of Positive Train Control, a system designed to automatically anticipate derailments or collisions, was not yet operational on the section of track that caused December’s accident. Initial investigations indicate that there was also no PTC operational on the section of track responsible for Sunday’s terrible collision.
Railroad companies have until the end of 2018 to install PTC on their tracks according to federal law, or they may be granted an extension until 2020 in some cases. The lack of PTC has been a major point of investigation in December’s Washington State Amtrak derailment, as many rail experts have stated it could have prevented the derailment entirely, or greatly reduced the number of casualties.
Sunday’s accident remains under investigation by the NTSB, whose investigations can take up to two years in some cases. Initial reports have not yet been released, aside from the announcement of the names of the two Amtrak workers killed, and the count of 116 injured in the collision. Details are still slowly coming out, and Lexton Law will continue to investigate this accident.
“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, a law firm that deals with train accidents. Call us today at (877) 541-2111. We are here to help you.