Amtrak train collides with truck near Austin

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Staff and Wire Reports

Posted on December 18, 2011 at 1:47 PM

Updated Sunday, Dec 18 at 9:30 PM

Train, truck collide

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HUTTO, Texas — An Amtrak passenger train headed to North Texas collided with a truck at a crossing in this northeast Austin suburb Sunday morning.

The accident happened near the intersection of U.S. 79 and Highway 130, just west of downtown Hutto, on the route of the Texas Eagle. The train struck a moving company box truck.

"The train was blowing its whistle, and the truck continued to cross the tracks and was struck by the train," Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Michael Knight said.

DPS said the truck was carrying a small car with no passengers when it pulled in front of the train.

"We looked over and just saw all the cars that had been damaged," passenger Geneva Blair said. "The front of the train had part of the car — thought somebody was hurt real bad."

A truck axle wedged between tracks and the train was most of what remained from a collision few passengers even felt.

Barrett Deming was just 30 minutes out of Austin when his trip to Arkansas was cut short.

"It felt like a speed bump," Deming said. "I really didn't think it was anything. I thought we would just keep going."

For several hundred yards the train did keep going, crushing the truck and ejecting its driver in the process.

The Hutto Fire Department arrived in minutes to contain the scene. Hazardous materials crews handled the diesel fuel that spilled all over the tracks while workers evacuated more than 200 passengers.

The 44-year-old truck driver from San Antonio was reported in critical condition at Seton Medical Center Williamson in nearby Round Rock. No identity was released.

Amtrak spokesman Steve Kulm said there were 211 passengers and a crew of 14. Two passengers indicated they had been injured, but declined medical treatment.

Passengers were taken to a nearby church while alternative transportation was arranged. Buses later arrived to take them to Fort Worth, where they can continue their rail journey.

The Texas Eagle operates daily between San Antonio and Chicago, with stops at Fort Worth and Dallas. The timing of Sunday's incident indicates that the train would have left Austin around 9:30 a.m., scheduled to arrive in Fort Worth at 1:58 and in Dallas at 3:20 p.m.

Debris from Sunday's wreckage had been cleared by late afternoon. Union Pacific said the accident caused no major damage to its tracks.

KVUE, WFAA and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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