(Palatka, Florida – November 8, 2018)
Six passengers aboard an Amtrak train bound for Miami, FL suffered injuries when the train struck a semi trailer truck loaded with gypsum panels at about 10:30 AM, EST Thursday morning. The collision occurred when the truck was extended over the tracks due to the proximity of paralleling US Highway 17 just outside of Palatka, FL
Although the crossing, designated as private, was fully equipped with operating flashing lights and gates, the vehicular storage space between the CSX Transportation rails and Highway 17 would barely accommodate a pickup truck or car, let alone a 16-wheeler.
The Amtrak train, one of a daily average of 12 CSX, Norfolk Southern and Amtrak trains that cross there at maximum allowable speeds of 79 mph, was carrying 166 passengers.
Federal Railroad Administration records say that another collision at the crossing, which serves the huge Seminole Electric generating plant, occurred in 1989, resulting in a non-fatal injury to the driver of another semi-trailer truck which collided with a CSX freight train.
In addition, FRA grade crossing safety rules do not require that train crews activate the locomotive’s horn as they approach crossings designated as “private”.
The Florida Highway Patrol responded to and was leading the investigation into the collision.