In Halifax, Amtrak Train Rams Into Huge Tractor-Trailer Stuck at Crossing



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Pennsauken, NJ (Law Firm Newswire) April 7, 2015 – Fifty-five train passengers were injured as a result of a collision on a heavily trafficked North Carolina track.

On its way from North Carolina to New Jersey on March 9, the 127-ton tractor-trailer was so big that it was forced to take back roads in order to avoid the overpasses on Interstate 95 it could not clear. The circuitous route allowed the giant commercial vehicle to proceed northward, but it also put it in the path of a northeast-bound Amtrak train.

The train slammed into the tractor-trailer after the truck got stuck at a railroad crossing in Halifax County, North Carolina, injuring 55 passengers aboard the train.

The 164-foot tractor-trailer used 13 axles to support a weight of 255,000 pounds — about three times the size of a standard 18-wheeler, which has five axles and carries a maximum of 80,000 pounds. Because of its size, the Guy Turner Inc.-owned tractor-trailer, which was carrying a modular building made by the PCX Corp.’s electrical distribution facility, required a special state permit as well as a North Carolina State Highway Patrol escort.

“There are strict federal maintenance and safety rules for large trucks that carriers must abide by,” said Steven Petrillo, a prominent attorney in Pennsauken, New Jersey, whose firm specializes in commercial vehicle law. “And an especially oversized vehicle, longer than half a football field, merits the additional special handling that this behemoth of a tractor-trailer received.”

The tractor-trailer got stuck at the railroad crossing when the driver attempted to make a tight left-hand turn while trying to proceed from one two-lane highway to another. With the assistance of a state trooper, the truck driver made multiple attempts to get the tractor-trailer to complete its turn, all to no avail. The truck driver, who said that he could not back the tractor-trailer off the tracks due to backed-up traffic behind it, ditched the marooned vehicle soon after blinking railroad lights signaled the imminent passage of an oncoming train.

The Carolinian runs daily between Charlotte, North Carolina and New York City via Philadelphia. On March 9, it carried 212 passengers and eight crew members. Approaching the crossing, the train engineer failed to see the stuck tractor-trailer due to a curve in the tracks, according to former Federal Railroad Administration official Steve Ditmeyer.

According to Ditmeyer, well-established protocols mandated that the truck driver and state trooper relay news of their difficulties to railroad dispatchers, who would have radioed the Amtrak train to stop. No officials have been able to provide any indication that the Amtrak or CSX received any warning of the truck driver’s plight.

After plowing into the tractor-trailer, the train derailed. The train engineer was among the 55 people aboard the train who were injured, all of whom were taken to area hospitals for treatment. The FRA is investigating the collision, which occurred on a stretch of CSX-owned track used by 30 to 35 passenger and freight trains every day.

“The federal investigation will be examining what went wrong at that railroad crossing and why,” Petrillo said. “The general public and the injured people aboard the train deserve answers, and steps must be taken to help prevent another collision from occurring at that same location.”

Learn more at Petrillo & Goldberg Law 6951 North Park Drive Pennsauken, NJ 08109 1333 Race Street Philadelphia, PA 19107 70 South Broad Street Woodbury, NJ 08096 Phone: 856-486-4343 Fax: 856:486-7979