Preliminary investigation report on Crozet Amtrak crash released

National Transportation Safety Board says the truck that collided with the train entered the railway crossing after gates were down

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The report says the truck rotated counterclockwise and  collided with a railroad signal bungalow next to the track.

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons | Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

The National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary report Wednesday revealing the garbage disposal truck that collided with an Amtrak passenger train carrying GOP members of Congress in Crozet Jan. 31 entered the crossing after the gates at it were down. The crash resulted in one death and six individuals were admitted to the University Health System for injuries.

The NTSB immediately initiated its investigation following the incident in western Albemarle County. According to the released report, the intersection the collision occurred at is equipped with “crossbuck signs, warning lights, bells and gates.” 

“Data extracted from the camera postcrash showed that as the crossing came into view, the gates were down and the refuse truck was on the grade crossing,” the report reads. “Witnesses to the crash reported that the refuse truck entered the crossing after the gates were down.”

The train, which was traveling at 61 mph, applied its brakes but did not have enough time to avoid a collision with the truck, causing “the truck to rotate counterclockwise and then collide with a railroad signal bungalow next to the tracks on the southwest side of Lanetown Road.”

The truck’s two passengers — not including the driver — were ejected from the vehicle as it spun, but the Amtrak train remained upright. 

The members of Congress were on their way to a Republican legislative retreat in West Virginia when the train struck a freightliner truck operated by Time Disposal LLC in a grade-crossing on the tracks. The truck was carrying two passenger in addition to the driver. One of the passengers, Christopher Foley, 28, died as a result of the crash while the other passenger and the driver were sent to the hospital, with the former in critical condition. 

According to the report, three Amtrak crewmembers and three train passengers sustained minor injuries while the remaining, — including members of Congress, their staffs and family members — were unharmed.

“NTSB investigators continue to examine issues related to the highway–railroad grade crossing,” the report says. “Investigators are also coordinating additional passenger and witness interviews and continue to gather information related to motor carrier operations, rail operations, and driver and train crew experience.”

Authorities will examine the scene to provide future improvements to Amtrak safety. There was no probable cause listed on the report, though the NTSB specified the information in the report is “preliminary and will be supplemented or corrected during the course of the investigation.”

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