The Delaware County Medical Examiner has identified the two workers who were killed when an Amtrak train crashed into a backhoe on the tracks near Philadelphia Sunday morning.
Joseph Carter, Jr., 61, of Wilmington, Delaware, and Peter John Adamovich, 59, of Lincoln University, Pennsylvania, both died from multiple blunt force injuries when a speeding train hit a piece of construction equipment and partially derailed in Chester, Pennsylvania. Carter was a backhoe operator while Adamovich was a worker.
The identities of the two victims were released Monday as the National Transportation Safety Board revealed new details in the crash.
NTSB official Ryan Frigo said at a news conference that the train was traveling 106 mph in a 110 mph zone and the crash occurred at milepost 15.7, just north of the Booth Street underpass in Chester. The engineer placed the train into emergency mode five seconds before impact, according to officials.
Frigo also said "no anomalies" were found after investigators examined the locomotive and passenger cars, along with their maintenance records. Video revealed construction equipment and work train equipment were on the track and immediately adjacent to the Amtrak train's track at the time of the crash. Frigo said investigators have not yet determined who was authorized to be on the track.
The Amtrak Palmetto Line train was heading from New York to Savannah, Georgia, when it hit a backhoe on the track about 8 a.m. Sunday in Chester, about 15 miles outside of Philadelphia, officials said. The impact derailed the lead engine of the train and shattered its windshield. There were 341 passengers and seven crew members on board.
U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, of New York, said before Carter Jr. and Adamovich were identified that he was told the Amtrak employees who were killed both worked for the train system for a long time.
More than 30 passengers were sent to hospitals; their injuries were not considered life-threatening and they were later released, officials said.
The crash came on a weekend full of accidents, NBC News reported: A man apparently trying to cross tracks near Sacramento was fatally struck by a train, a motorist was killed when a train crashed into a car in Illinois and a pedestrian near Philadelphia lost a leg after being struck by a train.
Frigo said at a Sunday news conference the engineer of the derailed locomotive in Pennsylvania was among those taken to hospitals. He said he did not know why the equipment was on a track the train was using. Scheduling, the track structure and the work being performed at the time of the accident would be part of the investigation, he said.
The event data recorder and forward-facing and inward-facing video from the locomotive were recovered, Frigo said Monday, and the recorder was sent to the NTSB laboratory in Washington. Frigo said it determined the train was traveling 106 mph at a location with a 110 mph speed limit.
Schumer said it's unclear whether the equipment was being used for regular maintenance, which usually is scheduled on Sunday mornings because fewer trains are on the tracks then, or whether it was clearing debris from high winds in the area overnight.
But he said Amtrak has "a 20-step protocol" for having equipment on the tracks and no trains are supposed to go on a track when equipment is present.
"Clearly this seems very likely to be human error," Schumer said, calling for Amtrak to review its processes. "There is virtually no excuse for a backhoe to be on an active track."
An Amtrak spokeswoman said in an email Sunday to The Associated Press that any information about the type of equipment on the track and why the train was using that track would have to come from the NTSB.
Ari Ne'eman, a disability rights activist heading to Washington after speaking at an event in New York, said he was in the second car at the time of the crash.
"The car started shaking wildly, there was a smell of smoke, it looked like there was a small fire and then the window across from us blew out," said Ne'eman, 28, of Silver Spring, Maryland.
Some passengers started to get off after the train stopped, but the conductor quickly stopped them, he said. Officials started evacuating people to the rear of the train and then off and to a local church.
"It was a very frightening experience. I'm frankly very glad that I was not on the first car," where there were injuries," Ne'eman said. "The moment that the car stopped, I said Shema, a Jewish prayer. ... I was just so thankful that the train had come to a stop and we were OK."
Businessman Steve Forbes told C-SPAN's "Book TV" by phone that he was in the next-to-last car when the train "made sudden jerks" as if it was about to make an abrupt stop.
Forbes, chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media, said the train then made another abrupt stop and "everyone's coffee was flying through the air."
"The most disconcerting thing ... (was) not knowing what had happened," he said.
Since the public address system was knocked out, he and other passengers were left to speculate for 20 or 25 minutes before a crew member came back to tell them what had happened, he said.
Amtrak said trains ran close to schedule Monday morning. SEPTA said its Wilmington/Newark Regional Rail Line trains, which were delayed up to a half-hour and did not make all stops in the early morning hours, were restored to full service shortly after 9 a.m.
In travel alerts on its website, Amtrak advised that services would resume on the heavily traveled start of the workweek, although commuters would encounter delays on Acela Express, Northeast Regional and other services between Philadelphia and Wilmington, Delaware.
Amtrak referred all other questions about the Sunday crash of Train 89 to the National Transportation Safety Board, which is conducting the investigation. Chester officials however did reveal some further details at a Monday news conference including that the engineer was last to leave the train and suffered a leg injury and most of the injured on the train were either carried out by crews or walked to ambulances on their own.
The derailment comes almost a year after an Amtrak train originating from Washington, D.C. bound for New York City went off the tracks in Philadelphia. Eight people were killed and more than 200 were injured in the May 12 crash. The exact cause of that derailment is still under investigation, but authorities have said the train had been traveling twice the speed limit.
Nearly three decades ago, an Amtrak train struck maintenance equipment on tracks in Chester, near the site of Sunday's derailment. More than 20 people were injured in that January 1988 crash of Train 66, the Night Owl. The NTSB determined afterward that an Amtrak tower operator had failed to switch the train to an unoccupied track.