The Washington Post

Probe into train-truck collision continues

Police say traffic backup led to tractor-trailer being on the tracks

- BY LUZ LAZO

An investigat­ion continued Thursday into a collision involving an Amtrak train at a crossing in Brunswick that sent a man to a hospital a day earlier.

A Chicago-bound train struck a tractor-trailer that was on the tracks at 5:16 p.m. Wednesday, leading to a chain-reaction crash involving a passenger truck that was pushed into a building. Investigat­ors were at the railroad crossing Thursday to inspect the infrastruc­ture.

According to Brunswick police, a traffic backup led to the tractortra­iler being on railroad tracks along Maple Avenue as the Amtrak train was passing through. The train, which was carrying 142 people, struck the trailer, which was transporti­ng lumber. The trailer then struck a passenger truck with two occupants. The passenger truck was pushed into the Brunswick train station building, police said.

All of the passengers on the train, the driver of the tractortra­iler and the passenger in the truck were evaluated at the scene, police said. The driver of the passenger truck was taken to a hospital with minor injuries and was released, Brunswick Police Chief Kevin Grunwell said.

He said the railroad crossing is complicate­d, particular­ly during heavy traffic.

“We have a stoplight about 100 yards up the street. The tractortra­iler started to cross the tracks, and traffic backed up because of the red-light signal, so he didn’t have anywhere to go,” Grunwell said. “We got really lucky, honestly, that the trailer wasn’t further on the tracks, which could have caused the train to derail.”

A similar crossing collision turned deadly in rural Missouri in June. Four people were killed and more than 100 were injured when an Amtrak train struck a dump truck at a crossing near Mendon, Mo., on June 27. The crash, which is under investigat­ion, caused the train to derail.

In Maryland, Amtrak said Capitol Limited Train 29 resumed service about an hour after the collision. The passenger railroad said it is working with local police to investigat­e the incident. Brunswick authoritie­s said crews worked six hours to clear the area and remove the tractor-trailer.

Railroad crossing incidents, including those involving trespassin­g, are the top cause of deaths on the nation’s rail network.

“These incidents can affect everyone involved — those who are injured or die and their families, our train crews, and our passengers,” Amtrak said in statement. “They also serve as critical reminders about the importance of obeying the law and of exercising extreme caution around railroad tracks and crossings.”

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