A New York-bound Amtrak train carrying singer Pearl Bailey slammed into a stalled steel-laden truck early today, injuring 52 people and derailing 15 cars, authorities said.
Bailey and her husband, drummer Louis Bellson, were not injured in the accident, said Ken Seymour, executive director of the Richland County American Red Cross.
The singer--clad in a nightgown, robe and sneakers--addressed fellow passengers through a bullhorn, urging them not to panic.
"I just said, 'This is Pearl, honey,"' she said later in an interview at the downtown Holiday Inn, where she had checked in for the night.
"She held my baby. She was beautiful," Joan DeMoss of Chicago said of Bailey.
Amtrak spokeswoman Marci Larson in Washington said Bailey frequently travels by Amtrak because she does not like to fly.
Fifteen of the train's 19 cars derailed in the accident at about 12:40 a.m. in the compound of the Empire-Detroit Steel mill, but none overturned, Larson said.
Nine people were admitted to Mansfield General Hospital but there were "no life-threatening injuries at all," hospital spokeswoman Glee Krentz said. Thirty-eight were released after treatment and five others left without being seen by hospital workers, she said.
The train, en route from Chicago to New York, was carrying about 425 passengers and 16 crew members.
Larson said the train probably was traveling close to 70 m.p.h. at the time of the accident.
The truck, carrying steel coils, had stalled at a crossing but the driver abandoned it before the crash, Larson said.