Two people were killed — Amtrak conductor Michael Cella, 36, of Orange Park, Florida and engineer Michael Kempf, 54, of Savannah, Georgia. At least 116 passengers were taken to four hospitals. Most of the injuries were cuts, bruises, and whiplash, according to authorities.
It is the third deadly train accident for Amtrak in less than two months.
The passenger train was en route from New York to Miami with 147 people on board when it slammed into an empty CSX freight train at 59 mph.
The accident occurred on Sunday, February 4, in the early-morning darkness at around 2:45 a.m. near Columbia, South Carolina.
Hours later, Amtrak President Robert Anderson demanded that the federal government install a new safety system by the end of 2018.
Investigators say the crash likely would have been prevented with a GPS-based safety system called “positive train control” (PTC) which monitors all trains and switches in an area to prevent having 2 trains on the same track.
The technology is being used in the Northeast, but not in South Carolina and many other states that operate tracks used by Amtrak.
The stretch of track where the accident occurred was operated by CSX Corp., and dispatchers for CSX were operating the train signals manually because their system was down. It is still not clear if CSX set the signal to red to warn the Amtrak crew not to continue on the track.
Source: GPS-based system could have prevented deadly Amtrak train crash in South Carolina