The President and CEO of Amtrak is laying the blame for Sunday’s fatal train collision in South Carolina on CSX Corp.
Amtrak engineer Michael Kempf, 54 and 36-year-old conductor Michael Cella were killed and more than 100 people were injured – two of them critically - when an Amtrak passenger train slammed into a CSX freight train that was parked on a side track. There was no one on the CSX freight train.
Amtrak's Richard Anderson said CSX was responsible for the tracks and signals, including one that had a lock attached to it and diverted the Amtrak train onto the side track.
"CSX had lined and padlocked the switch off the mainline to the siding, causing the collision," he said in a statement that was echoed by National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) chairman Robert Sumwalt, who noted that the section of track involved in the collision was operated by CSX and there was a padlock on the switch that steered train traffic onto the siding.
"Key to this investigation is learning why the switch was lined that way," Sumwalt said.
An NTSB investigation team is already onsite.
The collision occurred at 2:35 a.m. about five miles southwest of Columbia. This was Amtrak’s third fatal train crash in three months.
In describing the wreckage, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster told reporters. "The first engine of the freight train was torn up, and the single engine of the passenger train is barely recognizable." Witnesses said four of the freight train’s cars were demolished.