2 die in train’s second collision in 1 day

Published 4:26 pm Thursday, June 5, 2008

A southbound Amtrak train collided with a car in Louisiana on Wednesday, killing two people just an hour and a half after it injured the driver of another car in Mississippi.

None of the 130 passengers and crew aboard the train was injured, an Amtrak spokesman said, in the accidents that followed another crash by a train on the same route less than two weeks ago.

Killed Wednesday were the car’s driver Beverly Barnett, 48, and Draymond Vinning, 53, both of Independence, La., said Chief Dennis Pevey of the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office.

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The train traveling at about 79 miles per hour pushed the vehicle about 285 feet down the track near Independence, Pevey said, citing witness accounts. He said the car apparently pulled in front of the train about 70 miles north of New Orleans.

Passenger Ronnie Hall, 46, of Hot Springs, Ark., said she didn’t feel anything when the train hit the first car, but she felt a jolt and saw pieces of a car tossed away after the second accident.

“It cut the car in half,” she said.

The train stopped for 37 minutes in Mississippi and for more than an hour in Louisiana before continuing to its destination of New Orleans, said Chicago-based Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari.

Amtrak is reviewing the performance of the engineer, who was relieved after the second crash, and interviewing the crew as part of standard policy for accidents, Magliari said.

The rural crossing in Louisiana does not have lights or crossing bars that lower when a train approaches, but there are railroad crossing and yield signs posted and witnesses reported hearing the train’s horn or whistle, said Pevey, whose office learned of the wreck about 3:30 p.m.

The driver of the car in the McComb, Miss., accident did not appear to be seriously injured and was talking with emergency personnel at the scene, McComb Police Chief Billie Hughes said. The driver was taken to a Jackson hospital.

Hughes said the accident happened on a side street near U.S. 98 at a crossing that was marked with stop signs. He said it was unclear what led up to the crash.

“It just clipped the a corner of the car and spun it around and it lodged against a large Dumpster,” Hughes said.

Magliari said the train, which left Chicago on Tuesday night, continued south about 37 minutes after the Mississippi accident.

On May 27, two men were injured when their garbage truck collided with a train from the same City of New Orleans service in Copiah County just north of Crystal Springs, Miss. It wasn’t clear if the train or crew from the May accident were involved in the wrecks Wednesday.