BY: Ben Wilensky | IN: Railroaders
An Amtrak passenger train derailed on June 27, 2022, in Mendon, Missouri, approximately 100 miles northeast of Kansas City. Three people died, and more than 50 were injured when the Southwest Chief train carrying approximately 250 people struck a dump truck at an uncontrolled crossing – that is, a railroad crossing unprotected by mechanized gates or flashing lights. The force of the collision caused several train cars to topple onto their side.
Reports indicate that local residents repeatedly complained about the safety of the unprotected railroad crossing. Drivers’ sightlines at the intersection were obstructed by brush and other vegetation – a particularly dangerous situation because Amtrak trains pass through at up to 90 miles per hour. Because of those concerns, the crossing is reportedly on a list to receive safety upgrades, including installation of lights, gates, and roadway improvements – but those fixes were not made before the crash.
The June 27 crash was the second Amtrak derailment in two days at unprotected rural crossings. The day before, another Amtrak train passing through a crossing in Brentwood, California, collided with a passenger vehicle, causing three preventable deaths and two serious injuries. That intersection was also not protected by flashing lights or gates.
Amtrak has a long history of safety problems causing derailments, including a 2015 derailment in Philadelphia that killed eight and injured more than 200 and a 2017 derailment near Tacoma, Washington, that killed three and injured 65. A 2017 report by Amtrak’s Inspector General noted that Amtrak had a “weak safety culture” and a “culture of fear” among employees and that “clumsy Amtrak procedures seem to encourage workarounds by workers to get the job done.” The recent derailments show those issues persist, with tragic results for passengers and railroad employees alike.
If you or a loved one was injured as a result of either derailment, contact the national railroad attorneys at Sommers Schwartz as soon as possible. Contact us today at 800-783-0989 for a free consultation. We can help you protect your rights, and there is no fee unless we succeed.
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Ben focuses on representing railroad workers seeking compensation for injuries under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act. He also represents clients in professional malpractice, civil rights, products liability, fraud litigation, governmental liability, RICO, business disputes and employment law.