Speeding on curve killed 8; engineer refuses to talk to investigators
SPECIAL FROM WJLA
PHILADELPHIA (AP) – The Amtrak train that crashed in Philadelphia, killing at least seven people, was hurtling at 106 mph before it ran off the rails along a sharp curve where the speed limit is just 50 mph, federal investigators said Wednesday.
The engineer at the controls applied the emergency brakes moments before the deadly crash but managed to slow the train to only 102 mph when the locomotive’s black box stopped recording data, said Robert Sumwalt of the National Transportation Safety Board. The speed limit just ahead of the bend is 80 mph, he said.
The engineer, who name was not released, refused to give a statement to law enforcement Wednesday and left a police precinct with a lawyer. Sumwalt said federal accident investigators hope to interview him but will give him a day or two to recover from the “traumatic event.”
“Our mission is to find out not only what happened but why it happened, so that we can prevent it from happening again,” Sumwalt said.
More than 200 people aboard the Washington-to-New York train were injured in the wreck, which took place in a decayed industrial neighborhood not far from the Delaware River shortly after 9 p.m. Tuesday. It was the nation’s deadliest train accident in nearly seven years.
“We are heartbroken by what has happened here,” Mayor Michael Nutter said.
Amtrak suspended all service until further notice along the Philadelphia-to-New York stretch of the nation’s busiest rail corridor – forcing thousands of travelers to find some other way to reach their destination – as investigators examined the wreckage and the tracks and gathered up other evidence.
The dead included an AP employee and a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy. Many of the injured suffered from broken bones or burns. At least 10 remained hospitalized in critical condition.
Nutter said some people remained unaccounted for, though he cautioned that some passengers listed on the Amtrak manifest might not have boarded the train, while others might not have checked in with authorities.
“We will not cease our efforts until we go through every vehicle,” the mayor said in the afternoon. He said rescuers expanded the search area and used dogs…Read more:
Jan. 4, 1987: Amtrak Train 94 collided with a Conrail train in the Chase community of eastern Baltimore County. There were 660 passengers on the train. from WBAL in Baltimore, Md.
“Quiet car and business class look like they got brunt” of Amtrak crash, reports
@bethdavidz (train crash selfie)