Amtrak train collides with big rig injuring 35

October 1, 2011 12:35:00 AM PDT
Friday night an Amtrak train and truck collided around 7:30 p.m. Dozens of passengers were hurt, but none of them seriously and the train did not derail. The train departed Oakland at 5:50 p.m. and was headed to Bakersfield when it slammed into a big rig on the tracks near Discovery Bay.

Amtrak train 718 had about 200 passengers on board and fortunately no one on the train was killed. The condition of the truck driver is unknown. The truck it slammed into was carrying corn. It happened in an unincorporated part of East Contra Costa County near Bixler and Orwood roads.

"Approximately 35 victims that have been injured in the collision from minor to moderate injuries, they are currently being triaged and transported to local hospitals," said East Contra Costa County Fire Chief Hugh Henderson.

Passengers say they felt the train shutter. The impact scared passengers, some of whom panicked. A doctor helped a pregnant woman when the women started screaming.

"Everybody got so scared and a female [said] 'we have a pregnant lady sitting beside me' and she started screaming with a panic attack so it's bad, but I'm a physician so I just tried to control her," said passenger Dr. Fauzia Anwar.

"It was panic. Everyone's wondering, 'What's going on? What's going on?' No one heard anything for about 10, 15 minutes when they announced it on the speakers," said passenger Haline Gentry.

"I was falling asleep, then I just felt the jerk and I was kind of freaked out a little bit, you know. Well, a lot actually," said passenger Alejandro Santos.

Officials say that the driver and a passenger of the truck the train hit are uninjured.

There were four fire trucks and 10 ambulances that were dispatched to the scene. There were at least 100 emergency personnel on scene. Amtrak police are investigating the incident.

Busses transported passengers back to the stations where they originated.

ABC7 spoke to two uninjured passengers that were on the train who are cousins from the Bay Area. By 11 p.m. they were at the Orwood Resort in Antioch waiting for a bus to take them to Stockton, which could take several hours. They left from Antioch on their way to Stockton to spend the weekend with some friends.

"We were riding along in the train and all of a sudden there was a sudden jolt, like we heard this loud noise, and when we looked outside the train when we were slowing down, all you could see is dirt and sparks and things of that nature going by," said Omari Moss from Fremont.

"I [saw] from out my window, because I was sitting in the window seat, I could just see the front of the truck and then sparks and just a lot of debris and everything in the air. When I [saw] what was out the window, I was like 'That's going to be it,'" said Janay Dotson from Oakland.

Moss and Dotson said they did not see anyone who was injured, but they did see a number of people that were shaken up. They said that the conductor told them the rear end of the big rig, which may have had two trailers, did not cross the track in time. To the cousins' recollection, the road seemed to be some type of dirt crossing that did not have any guardrails, but that still has to be confirmed by investigators.

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