Amtrak Crash Death Toll at Six; Probe Underway

The death toll from collision between a tractor-trailer truck and an Amtrak train has reached six people, Reno, Nev., authorities said Saturday. Twenty passengers were injured.

Investigators have said that the tractor plowing into the Amtrak train skidded the length of a football field before crashing. According to the train’s engineer, he saw the truck trying to stop about 320 feet before it crashed.

"He recalled the event clearly. He saw the truck approaching the train," stated a National Transportation Safety Board member, Earl Weener to Los Angeles Times. "At some point, he knew the impact was imminent. He, in fact, watched the collision in a rearview mirror. He was hoping the train was not going to derail."

The collision occurred Friday in Nevada as the 10-car train was on its way to Emeryville, Calif, carrying 204 passengers and was headed to Emeryville, Calif., from Chicago. There were still passengers unaccounted for as of Saturday night.

"We are going to be working in the next several days to get more of that (unaccounted) number down the best we can," said Weener.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, two other truck drivers saw the tractor-trailer failing to stop despite the flashing warning signals.

The truck driver who died has been identified as a Nevada man in his 40s.

According to investigators, it wasn’t until Saturday afternoon when they were able to examine the wreckage due to safety reasons. So far, they are uncertain of what exactly happened. They estimate a year’s worth of investigation until they can find a cause. They have yet to review the train’s video data.

"We will not be determining a probable cause of this accident while we are here," Weener said.

Collisions are uncommon at rail crossings. Last year, Operation LifeSaver reported more than 2,000 collisions between vehicles and trains at railroad crossings.