Passenger trains have been involved in numerous crashes on grade crossings. We are saddened to read about an Amtrak crash in Suffolk last night that left one person dead after a train hit a dump truck.
Details about this crash are still emerging and the deceased person has not yet been identified. Images from the scene showed a truck with a badly mangled cab.
Emergency Communications received a 911 call around 7:55 p.m. relating to a crash at the intersection of East Washington Street and Moore Avenue in downtown Suffolk, reported WVEC.
Media reports suggested North Regional #125 from New York to Norfolk did not derail but was in a collision with a dump truck.
Liberty Street and East Washington Street are expected to remain closed until Friday morning as officers investigate the scene of this latest Amtrak crash.
Amtrak said the 10-car train had 60 passengers on board. All passengers received emergency medical assessments. One man was taken to a local hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. The Amtrak crash in Suffolk raises many questions.
Every year, hundreds of accidents occur between trains and vehicles on grade crossings. Amtrak services are often involved because passenger trains travel faster than freight trains, giving vehicles less time to get off the tracks.
Amtrak Crash in Suffolk is the Latest Grade Crossing Tragedy
In February, an Amtrak service carrying GOP leaders to a conference in West Virginia hit a trash truck on a grade crossing in Crozet, Virginia. A passenger in the trash truck died.
Investigators said the driver of a trash truck appeared to have maneuvered around rail crossing safety gates and onto the railroad tracks, putting him and his two passengers into the path of the Amtrak train.
In 2015, more than 60 people were injured after an Amtrak train derailed when it hit a truck at a crossing in Halifax.
The tractor-trailer and the oversize load it was carrying was being escorted by N.C. State Highway Patrol. It was hit by Amtrak’s Carolinian. The truck was stopped on the crossing at the time, according to reports.
In the United States, a pedestrian or a vehicle is hit by a train every three hours, accounting for 96 percent of rail industry deaths, The Hill reported.
Although some of these crashes are caused by drivers or walkers who take unnecessary risks, many grade crossings are hazardous and lack safety measures.
The Hill noted Congress enacted Section 130, an initiative that gives states dedicated funding to improve grade crossings. This program led to $2 billion in investment over the past decade. The article linked the money to a 23 percent reduction in deaths and a 33 percent reduction in rail trespassing fatalities.
However, the resources are not equal to the size of the problem. Many rural areas have rudimentary crossings lacking safety barriers. The railroad has an obligation to maintain these crossings and to cut down undergrowth that obscures views. The railroad must also ensure gates and lights are working while the train engineer must sound a horn when approaching a crossing. One passenger on the Amtrak train in Suffolk told WAVY.com they did not hear a horn sound before the train hit the dump truck.
Failure to implement safety protocols may be grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit against a railroad when a death on a grade crossing occurs.
Our thoughts are with the family of the deceased after this Amtrak crash in Suffolk. Far too many tragedies occur at grade crossings, causing an unnecessary loss of life. If you have lost a loved one, contact our Suffolk wrongful death lawyers at (757) 455-0077.