Amtrak Train from Chicago Collides With Truck Outside Reno

Officials said the railroad crossing gates and warning lights were working

By BJ Lutz
|  Monday, Jun 27, 2011  |  Updated 10:11 AM CDT
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Amtrak Train from Chicago Collides With Truck Outside Reno

An Amtrak train that left Chicago earlier this week collided with a truck on a rural northern highway outside of Reno, Nev., on Friday afternoon.

According to the New York Daily News, as of Monday morning, six were dead, and five were still missing.

Officials from the coroner's office as well as a forensic anthropologist searched through the rubble of the two train cars that had exploded. No additional victims were found. The search is set to resume on Monday.

The collision occurred on U.S. 95 about 70 miles east of Reno at about 1:25 p.m. Central Time Friday. The train left Chicago on Wednesday.

Nine people were transported to Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno.  Of those nine, two were listed in critical condition, four were in serious condition and three were in fair condition, said hospital spokesman Dan Davis.

Davis could not provide any information on the ages or genders of the patients.  He noted that the hospital may be receiving four to six more patients throughout the evening hours.

Amiee Fulk, spokeswoman for Banner Churchill Community Hospital in Fallon, said more than 10 people were treated in its emergency room, but she was unsure whether any were admitted into the facility.

Marianne Tidwell of Chicago said her daughter, Dionne, was on the train when it was struck in northern Churchill County. Her daughter works for Amtrak.

"She's fine.  She was very upset, but physically she's fine," Tidwell told NBC Chicago.  "She said that it was a very bad scene and that they were trying to evacuate the train."

Tidwell's daughter was in a conversation with one of her colleagues -- a female -- shortly before the crash.  That colleague is among the dead, she said.

"Mom, my co-worker is dead.  I was just talking to her a few minutes ago and she's dead," Tidwell recalled her daughter telling her.

Officials said the railroad crossing gates and warning lights were working. Witnesses told authorities that the truck didn't seem to attempt to stop at the crossing and crashed through the gate.

There were approximately 204 passengers and 14 crew members aboard Train 5 of the westbound California Zephyr, Amtrak said.

A spokesman from the Reno Fire Department said the train was struck by a bottom-dumping gravel transport truck and that the contents of the train car started on fire.

Photos from the scene, posted to the website of the Reno Gazette-Journal, show at least two of the train's cars on fire.

The accident shut down a section of U.S. 95 between Interstate 80 and Fallon, which is about 60 miles east of Reno.

The tracks cross the highway about three miles south of I-80.

Amtrak has set up a hotline for anyone concerned about passengers on the train. The phone number is 800-523-9101.

Video from KTVN, the CBS station in Reno

 

This bottom-dumping gravel truck collided with an Amtrak train outside Reno, Nevada.

 

The most seriously injured passengers were transported to hospitals by Blackhawk helicopters.

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