Truck driver in last week’s train crash was trying to go through a closed crossing, Amtrak president says

ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) — As Amtrak copes with having two fatal crashes within five days, its president, Richard Anderson, asserted Monday that the truck driver involved in the first of the pair of accidents hit a train by “trying to drive around a cross-block.”

Anderson was referring to a crash on Wednesday, Jan. 31, when an Amtrak train carrying some Republican members of Congress and their families smashed into a garbage truck on the tracks in Crozet, Virginia. One person riding in the truck was killed, while another truck occupant and the driver were injured. Several people on the train suffered minor injuries.

Neighbors in the area told ABC News that in the days leading up to the crash, the crossing gates “weren’t working right,” often staying down for hours at a time, with nary a train in sight.

According to one resident whose property backs up to the tracks where the crash occurred, frustrated motorists would try to lift the crossing bars to get around them.

“The incident last week was very unfortunate with someone working, trying to drive around a cross-block,” Anderson told reporters.

The truck driver’s company, Time Disposal, declined ABC News’ request for comment.

A second crash occurred Sunday, when an Amtrak train carrying 139 passengers slammed into a stationary freight train parked on the tracks near Columbia, South Carolina.

According to Amtrak, CSX, which operates that area of track and its signals, flipped a switch, mistakenly diverting the Amtrak train off the main tracks and into the path of the freight line.

CSX offered its “condolences” to the families of those impacted, but did not offer any comment on switching at that track location.

The NTSB is probing both incidents.

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