MENDON, MO (AP) – A dump truck driver last year may have never seen an oncoming Amtrak train before it was too late, federal investigators concluded in a report, finding that a steep, poorly designed railroad crossing in rural Missouri contributed to last year’s fatal Amtrak derailment that killed four people and injured 146 others.
The National Transportation Safety Board said Wednesday that the 45-degree angle where the road crossed the tracks made it hard for the dump truck driver to see the approaching train, and the steep approach discouraged the truck driver from stopping beforehand.
“The safest rail grade crossing is no rail grade crossing. But at the very least, every road-rail intersection should have an adequate design to ensure proper visibility so drivers can see oncoming trains,” NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy said. “Communities across the country deserve safer crossings so these types of accidents don’t happen again.”
The NTSB said the dump truck driver ignored a stop sign before continuing through the crossing near Mendon at a speed of about 5 mph (8 kph). The train was only able to slow 2 mph to 87 mph (140 kph) after the crew saw the truck approaching and slammed on the brakes.