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Engineer Killed as Trains Collide : Transit: 350 hurt when Amtrak's Silver Meteor derails in North Carolina after its locomotive hits a tractor-trailer jutting out from a passing freight car.

May 17, 1994| From Associated Press

SMITHFIELD, N.C. — An Amtrak train derailed when it struck a truck-trailer that had shifted on a passing freight train early Monday morning, killing the engineer and injuring more than 350 passengers.

"We felt a tremendous bump," said Dick Hutchinson of Wilton, Conn. "I started to slide out of my seat under the seat in front of me. Then we felt two more thuds."

Hutchinson was among many of the 438 people aboard who suffered minor injuries; he skinned his knees. About 75 people were treated at Johnston Memorial Hospital and seven were taken to Duke University Medical Center.

Killed was assistant engineer Brooks Woodward, 41, of Laurinburg, Amtrak President Thomas M. Downs said. Engineer William Black of Leland was in serious condition with broken legs and a concussion, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The Silver Meteor derailed about 1:45 a.m. PDT, about 25 miles southeast of Raleigh.

Downs said in Washington that the truck-trailer on a northbound CSX freight train was put on the collision course with the passenger train after its load of cat-box filler shifted, causing the tractor-trailer to jut out over the side of its flatbed car.

Downs said the Amtrak train was traveling about 70 m.p.h. and the CSX train about 35 m.p.h. when the Amtrak lead locomotive hit the trailer and derailed. All but one of the Amtrak's 19 cars derailed, but only one of the freight train's 52 cars left the track.

Nearly 300 people were taken to a Red Cross shelter at the National Guard Armory, where telephones, medical care and travel help were provided. Some passengers were put on buses to their destinations and others were put in hotels to await new trains.

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