Amtrak Train Reportedly Traveling on Wrong Track in Fatal Crash

February 4, 2018 Updated: February 4, 2018

An Amtrak train was apparently traveling on the wrong track before it crashed into a parked CSX Corp freight train in South Carolina on Sunday, Feb. 4, leaving at least two people dead and scores more injured.

The governor of South Carolina, Henry McMaster, said in a news conference that the CSX train was on the a loading track when the Amtrak train, which had 147 people on board, smashed into it. The crash happened in Cayce at 2:35 a.m. local time, ABC News reported.

Around 116 people were hurt in the accident, along with the two deaths, according to reports. The two fatalities were Amtrak employees, Amtrak said.

“It appears that the Amtrak was on the wrong track,” McMaster said in a press conference Sunday. “They weren’t supposed to be meeting right there by the bridge, clearly. And it may be a time factor, but that’s what it appears to me. But I defer to those who are experts in that and do have the correct information, but it appears that Amtrak was on the wrong track.”

In a statement, Amtrak wrote that it is “deeply saddened to report the death of two of our employees in this morning’s derailment in Cayce, South Carolina.” The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating, the company said.

“CSX owns and controls the Columbia Subdivision where the accident occurred. CSX maintains all of the tracks and signal systems. CSX controls the dispatching of all trains, including directing the signal systems which control the access to sidings and yards,” Amtrak’s statement reads.

The train, Amtrak 91, was operating between New York and Miami.

It added: “Amtrak is working to take care of everyone who was on the train, including family members of our passengers and crew.”

The two employees who died were 54-year-old Michael Kempf, the train engineer, and 36-year-old Michael Cella, who was the train conductor, ABC reported. Both men were in the first car, the engine car, of the train.

“It’s a horrible thing to see, to understand what force was involved,” McMaster said, according to Reuters. “The first engine of the freight train was torn up, and the single engine of the passenger train is barely recognizable.”

The southbound passenger train’s locomotive was lying on its side, and the first car was bent and also derailed, although it remained upright, according to images from the scene.

At least four cars of the freight train, which was northbound before it was parked, were crumpled, looking like crushed tin foil, but remained on the tracks.

Authorities raised the number of injured from the initial count of 70 to 116.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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