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Man cited, fined for Amtrak derailment in southern Michigan

Earlier this year an Amtrak passenger train was derailed in Jackson County, about 45 miles south of Lansing. A 68-year-old man was driving a semitrailer truck over the train tracks when he says the truck got hung up and he was unable to move it out of the way.

The train crashed into the tractor trailer and the engine car fell onto its side. The following dining and passenger cars were derailed. The train was carrying 68 passengers and five crew members. Ten people including the truck driver, the Amtrak engineer, another Amtrak employee and seven passengers were treated and released at a local hospital. None suffered very serious injuries.

The accident occurred at about 8:30 a.m. and some of the passengers were still asleep. The Blackman-Leoni Township Department of Public Safety and police investigated the scene. The truck driver was cited with a civil infraction of trying to cross the railroad tracks without enough clearance.

Last week the truck driver admitted responsibility for the accident in Jackson County District Court via his attorney because the driver lives out of state. He was fined $450 for his citation. The Federal Railroad Administration estimates that the derailment cost an estimated $2.3 million in damages and repairs.

The report does not indicate why the truck driver attempted to cross the tracks at this particular crossing. According to television reporters the truck driver was hauling a flatbed and the load was too heavy, causing the wheels to get caught on the tracks. While the injuries were thankfully relatively minor, someone should still be held responsible for the accident and the victims should be reimbursed for their medical costs. Perhaps the driver was simple negligent, or perhaps the company that loaded the flatbed was not accurate in their weighing of the load, or the owner of the truck did not maintain the tires at the proper inflation levels.

Source: woodtv.com, "Amtrak hits semi, derails in Jackson Co," Feb. 3, 2012

Source: poststar.com, "NY man takes responsibility for Mich. Amtrak crash," July 13, 2012

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