Fifty-five people were taken to hospitals Monday after an Amtrak train hit a tractor-trailer that had stopped on the tracks in North Carolina, causing a locomotive and a baggage car to derail, officials said.
There were 213 people aboard the train, which had left Charlotte shortly before the crash at 12:15 p.m. local time, according to Mike Charbonneau, deputy secretary of communication for the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
The train struck the tractor-trailer in Halifax County, according to the transportation agency.
Amateur video apparently taken of the crash shows the blue tractor-trailer immobile on the tracks. The video then shows the train burst through the tractor-trailer and slow to a stop.
Charbonneau said there “were reports” that the driver of the vehicle had been in the area before the crash, but it was not clear whether anyone who had been in the tractor-trailer was hurt.
The tractor-trailer, on its way to New Jersey, was being escorted by state troopers to the Virginia state line because of its oversized load, said Lt. Jeff Gordon, spokesman for the North Carolina State Highway Patrol.
“It’s an unfortunate collision,” he said.
The tractor-trailer attempted to make a left turn, over the tracks, onto northbound U.S. 301, but the driver misjudged the turn and needed to back up to try again, Gordon said.
The train hit the tractor-trailer while a state trooper was trying to get cars to back up so the driver could attempt another turn, Gordon said.
“The trailer never stalled,” Gordon said. “There just wasn’t enough time to move.”
Gordon estimated no more than five minutes passed from the misjudged turn to the time of impact.
The crash is being investigated by Amtrak and the Federal Railroad Administration, Charbonneau said. It was not known whether the National Transportation Safety Board would become involved as well.
Eight Amtrak crew members were aboard the train at the time of the crash but none were hurt, according to a statement issued by the company.
Calls to the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office seeking additional information were not immediately returned.
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