Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Trains Crash; at Least 12 Killed 21 Hurt in Amtrak, Commuter Crash

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Trains Crash; at Least 12 Killed 21 Hurt in Amtrak, Commuter Crash

Article excerpt

An Amtrak train bound for Chicago and a Maryland commuter train carrying Job Corps trainees home on weekend passes crashed in a Washington suburb during a snowstorm Friday. At least 12 people on the commuter train were killed.

The dead were trapped in a car of the commuter train, victims of multiple injuries and fire, said Lt. Denise Fox, spokeswoman for the Montgomery County, Md., fire department. None was immediately identified.

At least 21 people were injured, officials said. Among the commuter train passengers were 14 Job Corps trainees. Warren Monks, a spokesman for the Maryland Transportation Administration, said the commuter train was carrying only 17 passengers and three crewmen.

The 14 trainees are among 165 at the Labor Department's Jobs Corps Center at Harpers Ferry, W.Va., many of whom work at Harpers Ferry National Historic Park. They were returning to their homes in the Washington area on a weekend pass.

The accident took place about 5:45 p.m. EST, about half an hour after Amtrak's Capitol Limited carrying 175 passengers plus crew left Washington's Union Station for Chicago.

The commuter train was being pushed toward Union Station. It was stopped on the tracks, said Warren Monks, a spokesman for the Maryland Transit Administration.

Just north of the District of Columbia city limit, the two Amtrak locomotives pulling the cross-country train crashed head-on into the commuter train's passenger cars, said Nanci Philips, another spokeswoman for the Maryland system.

Moments before the impact, conductors on the Maryland train ran through the cars warning passengers of a pending crash, several riders said. Kelvin Williams, 19, of Seat Pleasant, Md., said three conductors came out screaming, "`Everybody get down!' And then we crashed. Everybody was crying and screaming."

Investigators were looking into a possible signal or switch malfunction on the tracks, owned and operated by CSX Transportation. They also were examining dispatching orders sent by radio from CSX's headquarters in Jacksonville, Fla. …

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