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Amtrak train hits car in Mich.; 5 dead

Published:

Amtrak train hits car in Mich.; 5 dead

Police: Vehicle was crossing tracks when it was struck
The Associated Press
updated 3:35 p.m. ET, Thurs., July 9, 2009

CANTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. - An Amtrak passenger train carrying about 150 people struck a car at a road crossing near Detroit on Thursday, killing all five people in the sedan, authorities said.

The crossing has a gate and flashing lights that were believed to be working when the car approached, said Sgt. Mark Gajeski, a police spokesman.

Police did not know the ages of the victims. The bodies remained trapped in the sedan two hours after the crash, Gajeski said. He said the train typically travels about 67 miles per hour at the site.

The only reported medical problem among the people on the train was a case of a passenger with asthma, Gajeski said.

The crash occurred around 12:30 p.m. in the Wayne County community of Canton Township, about 20 miles west of Detroit, said police Sgt. Craig Wilsher.

Wilsher said the vehicle was heading north when it crossed the train tracks and was hit, pushing the car about 150 feet from one road crossing to another.

No malfunction
The train was on its way from Detroit to Chicago, said Marc Magliari, a Chicago-based Amtrak spokesman.

"There is every indication the train crew was doing exactly what it should have been doing and that there was no malfunction of the train," he said. "They can't make vehicles, or pedestrians for that matter, heed signals."

"This is tragic for both the family of those who died and the train crew," he said.

The Amtrak train will remain at the scene as police investigate, and passengers will be transferred to buses that will take them to another Chicago-bound train, Magliari said.

There is a warning device with a flashing light and gates at the crossing where the crash occurred, said Rudy Husband, a spokesman for Norfolk Southern Corp., which owns the track. Husband said he couldn't say if the device was working at the time of the crash. That will be part of the investigation, he said.

The National Transportation Safety Board didn't immediately have any information about the crash.

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