Amtrak sues Detroit over train vs. fire truck collision

Train vs fire truckAmtrak has sued the city of Detroit for a crash in which a train collided with one of the city’s fire trucks last March. The crash occurred because a firefighter parked the truck on the railroad tracks. The train engineer saw the fire engine on the tracks and applied the emergency brakes, but was unable to stop the train to avoid the collision.

Amtrak has sued to collect $75,000 to pay for repairs to the train, while damage to the fire truck probably far exceeded that amount.

Here is an excerpt from the Detroit News:

…At the time of the accident, top fire officials wasted few words in criticizing the firefighter who parked the truck on the tracks.

“I’m very upset,” executive fire commissioner James Mack said at the time. He was removed from his post earlier this month.

“I’m going to make it known that this is not acceptable and we’ll do some training,” he said.

The truck was struck by a commuter train late in the morning on March 2 in southwest Detroit.

One firefighter was injured and taken to Detroit Receiving Hospital and treated for a gash to his head, union officials said at the time. No other firefighters were seriously injured, he said.

No injuries were reported aboard the train initially, but about an hour after the accident, one passenger complained of pain, although the extent was unknown, Mack said.

The crash occurred in the city’s southwest side near John Kronk and Lonyo, where police officers and firefighters were responding to an accident involving a car and a tractor trailer.

“The fire truck was parked right on the tracks,” said Willfrido Gutierrez, 27, whose Monte Carlo was struck by the tractor trailer. “I tried to get my wife and kid away from there and I heard a huge explosion.”

The four firefighters jumped in the rig and tried to get it off the tracks in time, but were unsuccessful. The truck, Ladder 13, was T-boned by the westbound train and dragged a considerable distance before coming to rest on the tracks.

“It was a $600,000 truck,” Mack said at the time. “We’re trained professionals. We should always be thinking. I don’t think the citizens of Detroit are pleased that he parked on the tracks.

Thanks Dick

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.