Eastern Carolina school superintendent, family on derailed Amtrak train

Eastern Carolina school superintendent, family on derailed Amtrak train

After a collision between a commuter train and a freight train in Chatsworth, California, that killed 25 people, Congress passed a law in 2008 requiring railroads to adopt the technology on all tracks that carry passenger trains.

It was the third deadly wreck involving Amtrak in less than two months.

Moreover, authorities say the crash could have been prevented with a GPS-based system called "positive train control", which knows the location of all trains and the positions of all switches in an area and is created to prevent two trains from traveling on the same track at the same time. The crash happened around a switchyard about 10 miles (16 kilometers) south of Columbia. It was the middle of the night, and many people were jolted from sleep by the crash and forced into the cold.

"I've never seen anything like it ever", Comerico said.

"It's a terrible thing to see, to understand the force involved", McMaster said after touring the scene.

Suddenly awake, Larkin said the train was shaking and jumping and his seat broke loose, slamming him into the row in front of him. Smith said he and his friend saw passengers limping along the tracks, while others tried to get everyone out of the cars.

The head of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said Sunday that the correct implementation of a key train safety feature could have prevented the early morning Amtrak crash in SC.

He said the question for investigators is why that happened.

Chairman Robert Sumwalt said at a press conference that the implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC), which automatically decreases the speed of a train traveling over the limit, could have prevented the collision that left two people dead and dozens of others injured. He told the investigators he had planned to start braking about a mile before an upcoming curve with a 30-mph speed restriction at milepost 19.8, the agency said.

Eastern Carolina school superintendent, family on derailed Amtrak train
Eastern Carolina school superintendent, family on derailed Amtrak train

"That's what it's created to do", he said, referring to technology that regulators have been pressing for for decades with mixed success.

CSX in its own statement offered condolences to the families of the two Amtrak employees who were killed in the crash. Of the 116 people taken to four hospitals, only eight remained in the hospital Monday.

One person at Palmetto Heath was in critical condition, while two were in serious condition.

The locomotives of both trains were crumpled on impact, and the Amtrak engine ended up on its side.

"It's a awful thing to see, to understand the force involved", the governor said after touring the scene.

Sumwalt said they've recovered a forward facing video recorder, and that's already been sent back to Washington, D.C. The event data recorders, commonly called the "black box" devices, have not yet been recovered.

It's been a decade since Congress approved a law mandating the GPS-based system called "positive train control", which is created to prevent two trains from travelling on the same track at the same time.

Amtrak officials gathered up luggage and other belongings and within hours put passengers aboard buses to their destinations.

The people who weren't hurt were taken in patrol cars to a shelter, Lexington County Sheriff's spokesman Adam Myrick said. Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fisher identified the men as 54-year-old Michael Kempf of Savannah, Georgia and 36-year-old Michael Cella of Orange Park, Florida.

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