A passenger train bound for New York has reportedly found its way onto wrong tracks and collided with a parked freight train killing the engineer and conductor. That's now six deaths in three separate incidents involving Amtrak in less than two months.

By Joe McDonough


Posted on February 5, 2018

An engineer and conductor have died and at least 116 others injured when an Amtrak passenger train smashed into a parked CSX Corp freight train in South Carolina at 2.35am (local time).

It is understood the train was not travelling on the track it was supposed to be on and hit the freight train at approximately 95 kilometres per hour.

The area reportedly has three rows of tracks, and the train bound for New York from Miami, was on a “loading track or a side track”, according to South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster.

“It’s a horrible thing to see, to understand what force was involved,” he said.

“The first engine of the freight train was torn up, and the single engine of the passenger train is barely recognisable.”

Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fisher said 54-year-old engineer Michael Kempf and 32-year-old conductor Michael Sella were killed in the collision.

“When you consider a train that size and how many people were on board, you would expect more fatalities just because they are trains, but God blessed us and we only had the two, not that they were in any diminished because they were very, very hard,” Fisher continued.

She said she had been speaking to the victims’ relatives. “They are very distraught, very shocked, as anybody would be in this situation. We are working with them to make sure they are taken care of.”

President Donald Trump tweeted: “My thoughts and prayers are with all of the victims involved in this mornings train collision in South Carolina. Thank you to our incredible first responders for the work they’ve done.”

Amtrak under mounting pressure

It is the third tragedy involving Amtrak in less than two months, and second in a week.

On Wednesday, an Amtrak train carrying Republican members of Congress hit a garbage truck in Virginia, killing one of the truck’s passengers, 28-year-old Christopher Foley.

And in December, three passengers passed away and 100 were taken to hospital after an Amtrak train derailed south of Seattle and fell onto the Interstate 5 highway below.

It has led to a chorus of concerns on Twitter, and while Amtrak is understandably under fire, so too is the Trump administration, with many making note of the funding cuts to transportation.