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South Carolina Amtrak train collision: what we know

An Amtrak passenger train and CSX freight train collided early Sunday morning.

Train collision in Cayce, South Carolina, on February 4, 2018.
Train collision in Cayce, South Carolina, on February 4, 2018.
Emily Stewart covers business and economics for Vox and writes the newsletter The Big Squeeze, examining the ways ordinary people are being squeezed under capitalism. Before joining Vox, she worked for TheStreet.

Two people were killed and 116 injured in a crash between an Amtrak passenger train and a CSX freight train in South Carolina early Sunday morning. Amtrak Train 91, en route to Miami from New York, collided with the CSX train at about 2:35 am in Cayce, South Carolina. The Amtrak train was apparently on the wrong track.

The Amtrak train’s lead engine and some passenger cars derailed; it was carrying eight crewmembers and 139 passengers. Those injured were transported to local hospitals, according to Lexington county spokesperson Harrison Cahill, and injuries ranged from scratches to broken bones. About 5,000 gallons of fuel were spilled, authorities estimated, but that there’s “no threat to the public at this time,” Cahill said on Sunday.

The National Transportation Safety Board has been called to investigate. This is Amtrak’s second fatal crash this week.

What we know

The Amtrak train in the collision was on the wrong track, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster told reporters on Sunday. He said the CSX freight train, which had no one aboard, “was on the track it was supposed to be on.”

Amtrak said in a statement that CSX owns and maintains the area where the trash occurred: “CSX controls the dispatching of all trains, including directing the signal systems which control access to sidings and yards.”

Robert Sumwalt, chair of the National Transportation Safety Board, told Fox & Friends one of the priorities is to recover data recorders to determine the speed of the Amtrak train at the point of collision.

Derek Pettaway, a passenger on one of the train’s rear cars, told CNN that he was awakened by the impact and helped off the train “really quickly” by the crew. “Nobody was panicking,” he said. He went to the hospital and after being discharged with minor whiplash went to a shelter for passengers at Pine Ridge Middle School.

This is the latest fatal incident involving an Amtrak train in recent weeks. Three people were killed and about 100 injured after an Amtrak train derailed in DuPont, Washington, in December. On Wednesday, one person was killed when a train carrying congressional Republicans to a retreat in West Virginia hit a truck near Charlottesville, Virginia.

Amtrak has released a phone number for individuals with questions about passengers on the train to call.

Local reporter Chad Mills reported that he was told by a source the casualty number isn’t expected to rise and “we dodged a bullet on this one.”

White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters said in a statement that President Donald Trump had been briefed on the incident and is receiving regular updates. “Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone that has been affected by this incident,” she said. The president also addressed it on Twitter.

What we don’t know

The exact cause of the crash, or how fast either train was going at the time of the collision.