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NTSB provides update on speed of Amtrak train before impact, other details in deadly crash

Amtrak NTSB train derail Mendon crash 5.png
Amtrak NTSB train derail Mendon crash 2.png
Posted at 7:25 PM, Jun 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-29 23:10:36-04

MENDON, Mo. — On Wednesday, National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy, held a press conference to provide an update on the deadly train derailment near Mendon, Missouri.

Homendy addressed a variety of topics regarding the derailment including the train's speed before and at the time of the crash, NTSB's investigative approach and the next steps in their investigation.

According to the NTSB, Monday’s ill-fate Amtrak train was just under the speed limit before slamming into 53-year-old Billy Barton's work truck at the railroad crossing on Porche Prairie Avenue.

"The speed of the train when the horn started blowing, which is about a quarter mile out from the crossing, at that point was 89," Jennifer Homendy, chair of the National Transportation Safety Board said. "At the time of impact, it was 87 miles per hour. The speed at that at that crossing is 90 miles per hour."

Investigators haven't calculated yet how long it would've taken to bring the train to a complete stop in order to avoid tragedy. Three others on board the Southwest Chief died.

"The seats weren't locked and the seats swivel, that has an impact on survivability," Homendy said.

There were no passenger ejections in this crash, according to Homendy.

NTSB has been in contact with entities such as the Federal Railroad Administration, BNSF Railway, Amtrak, and the Missouri Department of Transportation to help gather information for their investigation.

These entities have been assigned to certain groups (Mechanical, Operations, Crashworthiness and Highway) for information gathering.

The team has now reviewed the train's front-facing cameras.

"You can see the vehicle moving down the road, there is dust," Homendy said. "But I see, we see, on the video, a lot of dust behind the vehicle, certainly there could be movement in front of the vehicle."

Although their focus continues to be on the steep crossing itself.

On Thursday, investigators will find a truck similar to the one that Barton was driving on Monday and they'll take it through the crossing to get a better understanding of what he saw right before the crash.

"That's not just looking at vegetation along the track, but it's also looking at what might blind a driver's vision," Homendy said.

NTSB does not have concerns about mechanical issues, including the train's brakes.

In the meantime, they're imploring officials to do something about this crossing that locals had warned about.

The Chariton County Commission informed NTSB that there were complaints from people in the community about not only the steepness of the crossing, but navigating the crossing in general, according to Homendy.

NTSB planned to meet with many parties such as Amtrak, FRA, BNSF Railway, and the acting administrator of the Federal Highway Administration on Wednesday night to discuss what to do next to avoid another deadly incident.

"Action needs to be taken so that another accident doesn't occur," Homendy said.

In about two weeks, NTSB will release a preliminary report on the crash.

Homendy said that press conferences regarding the derailment will no longer be held but they will still be available for comment.