South Carolina Injury Attorneys
2 Dead, Over 100 Injured After Amtrak Train Crashes in South Carolina

2 Dead, Over 100 Injured After Amtrak Train Crashes in South Carolina

Two victims have been killed and at least 116 others injured after an Amtrak train traveling from New York to Miami collided with a freight train Sunday morning. According to authorities, the crash occurred in Cayce, South Carolina – 10 miles south of Columbia – and also resulted in thousands of gallons of oil spillage near the scene.

The crash, which occurred just before 3:00 am on Sunday, February 4th, killed the train’s 54-year-old engineer and 32-year-old conductor. Of the nearly 150 occupants aboard Amtrak Train 91, including 139 passengers, at least 116 suffered injuries ranging from minor soft tissue injuries to severe broken bones.

While investigations are still pending, state authorities and regulators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) – the federal agency tasked with investigating large scale transportation accidents – have stated that Amtrak Train 91 was traveling at 59 mph when it struck the empty CSX train near a switchyard where railcars are loaded and unloaded. NTSB investigators also found that a switch had been positioned in a manner that forced the Amtrak train off the main track and onto the siding.

As investigators continue to sift through the wreckage and determine why the switch in question was set to its particular position, they will focus on whether this tragedy could and should have been prevented. Some experts have already stated that had the tracks been outfitted with positive train control (PTC), a technology that can automatically slow or stop trains, the collision could have been avoided or substantially reduced in severity.

Preventable Train Accidents & Victims’ Rights

Sunday’s South Carolina train crash is one of many in a list of deadly train accidents involving Amtrak and other major rail companies over the past decade – many of which investigators and safety experts say could have prevented had operators taken appropriate safety measures and / or implemented life-saving PTC technology. These include several high profile accidents:

  • A December 2017 Amtrak derailment in Washington state that killed 3 victims and injured more than 60 others. Investigators have noted that the train was traveling nearly 3 times the speed limit when it approached a curved stretch of track and derailed.
  • A 2015 Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia that injured more than 200 passengers and killed 8 victims. NTSB investigators noted that the engineer had become distracted by radio transmissions and that the train was traveling over 50 mph when it derailed.
  • A 2008 collision in Chatsworth, California between a Metrolink commuter train and Union Pacific freight train. NTSB officials reported that the Metrolink train rain a red signal before entering the single track where it collided with the freight train. The engineer, who died during the collision, had been distracted by text messages sent while on duty.

In all of these train accidents, NTSB officials noted that grave safety errors and operational shortcomings caused devastating preventable accidents. Their insight into these types of issues – including operator error, excessive speed, engineer distraction, and more – will aid them in their investigations over what led to Sunday’s crash in South Carolina. In particular, they will play close attention to whether the engineer, conductor, or other rail employees failed in some way to ensure the track switch was correctly positioned.

At Christian & Christian, our Greenville personal injury lawyers extend our thoughts and support to all those who have been affected by this tragedy. Although there is still a great deal of work to be done in exploring why Amtrak Train 91 was forced off the main track, preliminary evidence and the opinions of experts suggest that the wreck could have been prevented. As such, victims who suffered injuries in the wreck may have the right to pursue justice and a financial recovery of their damages by filing personal injury claims against the appropriate at-fault party.

As a firm that has dedicated nearly a century of collective legal experience to fighting on behalf of the injured and the wronged throughout South Carolina, Christian & Christian is available to speak with any victims and families who have questions about their rights following Sunday’s Amtrak accident. As caring and compassionate lawyers who focus our practice in South Carolina, we intend to stay up-to-date on the ongoing investigations, and can help victims better understand whether they have potential claims for compensation. To request a FREE and confidential consultation, contact us today.


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