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5 critically injured in Amtrak collision

Brighton Local

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5 critically injured in Amtrak collision

December 1, 2007


[float=right]1196452760126780.jpg[/float]CHICAGO (AP) — An Amtrak train plowed into the back of a freight train Friday, critically injuring five people as its engine car hurtled to a stop atop a crushed boxcar.


The Amtrak's three double-decker passenger cars remained upright, and most of the 187 passengers walked away unhurt or with minor injuries. Nine people were reported in serious condition and another 30 were treated for bumps and bruises, though Fire Commissioner Raymond Orozco expected that number to rise to about 50.


It was unclear how many of the six Amtrak workers aboard were hurt, but damage to the train was concentrated on its engine, where some of workers were. Four people had to be extricated from front of the train, Orozco said.


No one was in the portion of the Norfolk Southern freight train that was struck, and neither of the of two workers on that train were hurt.


Amtrak passengers, many of them carrying winter coats and luggage, streamed off the train on the city's South Side with the help of rescue workers. Some held the hands of small children; others were taken away on stretchers and backboards.


Coert Vanderhill, 60, of Holland, Mich., said the train was approaching the station at about 15 to 20 mph when the engine "just ran right up the tail end" of the freight train.


"Everybody just hit the seat in front of them," he said.


Vanderhill, who had come to Chicago to visit his children, had a small cut on his nose and said most passengers, like him, were the "walking wounded."


Twenty ambulances and a fire-suppression unit were at the scene tending to passengers, officials said.


The Amtrak's three double-decker passenger cars remained upright, officials said.


The train was en route from Grand Rapids, Mich., to Chicago, Amtrak spokesman Derrick James said. The freight train was en route from Elizabeth, N.J., to Chicago, according to Norfolk Southern spokesman Rudy Husband.


Husband said he had no details about what caused the accident or what the freight train was carrying.


James said it remains unclear which train was in the wrong place. He said the train shares the track with Norfolk Southern, which owns it. He also said he did not know if the freight train was moving or stationary when it was struck.


James said Amtrak is awaiting information from an event recorder, a device similar to the black boxes on commercial jets. The National Transportation Safety Board was sending investigators.


James said of particular interest is what the signals were before the Amtrak train got to the area where the collision occurred.


Interim Chicago police Superintendent Dana Starks said the accident was recorded by a camera on a nearby post and the footage would be turned over to investigators.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

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