Amtrak train in Lakeland derails after crashing into semi-truck hauling cars

LAKELAND, Fla. — A train carrying 173 passengers and crew members partially derailed Friday night after it crashed into a semi-truck parked on a railroad crossing.

The truck was hauling eight vehicles, several of which became lodged underneath the train.

The semi-truck was stuck on the tracks shortly before the crash, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO).

PSCO said the rain engineer Ronald Webb of Jacksonville began blowing the train’s horn after spotting the semi-truck.

The crossing arms and lights activated, and began to impact the truck's trailer and the truck driver, Walberto Carrazana Bermudez of Homestead, and his passenger, Jose Luis Lahera Vidal of Hialeah, both jumped out of the truck, authorities said.
Bermudez was issued a citation for insufficient clearance at a railroad crossing.

The crash was reported at 7:06 p.m. Lakeland Fire Rescue, Lakeland Police Department, Polk County Sheriff’s Office and multiple other agencies responded to the scene near the intersection of Canal Street and Memorial Boulevard, which is just south of Lake Parker.

Lakeland Fire Rescue said the locomotive of the Amtrak train was taken off the tracks due to the force of the collision. As of 10:30 p.m., a total of 8 people were injured, and 7 people were taken to Lakeland Regional Medical Center with what were described as “non-critical” injuries.

Noah Gadelrab, who was driving east on Memorial Boulevard, caught the collision on his car’s dashcam.

Passengers and crew members were evacuated from the train after the derailment and sent to the R.P. Funding Center in Lakeland to regroup.

According to first responders, the Amtrak train was headed from Miami to New York, traveling east on the tracks which run parallel with US 92, and had made a stop in Tampa.

PSCO said Amtrak arranged to transport the passengers and crew members to be taken to Tampa via bus.

US 92 and Canal Avenue North were closed for approximately ten hours, but have now been reopened. 
According to officials initial estimates indicate damages to the train, tracks, CSX property, cost of cleanup, and losses due to track downtime is estimated to be between 6 and 10 million dollars.


Amtrak released the following statement:

Today, at approximately 7 p.m. ET, Amtrak Train 92 was damaged after it came into contact with a truck-trailer combination obstructing the track at a grade crossing. The leading locomotive lost contact with the track. Amtrak is working with local emergency responders to move the approximately 166 passengers and 10 crew members from the train to a shelter. Train 92 originates daily in Miami and, in this area, uses tracks owned, maintained, and controlled by CSX railroad.

According to Lakeland authorities, it’s not yet known what caused the crash. They don’t know why the truck was parked on the railroad crossing, which is equipped with flashing lights and a stop-arm. They don’t know if the stop-arm was down before the crash.

According to Lakeland Police Department, Polk County Sheriff’s Office will lead the investigation.

An unknown amount of diesel fuel leaked from the train. According to Lakeland Fire Rescue, contaminated soil may be removed and discarded.

This is a breaking news story. ABC Action News will provide more details as they become available.

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