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Posted on Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 10:04 a.m.

Amtrak train crashes into truck in Jackson County

By Cindy Heflin


An Amtrak train smashed into a semi truck on the tracks in Jackson County's Leoni Township this morning.

Jackson Citizen Patriot photo

Editor's note: This article has been updated with additional details.

Ten people were injured Wednesday morning when a westbound Amtrak train crashed into a semi tractor-trailer rig, the Jackson Citizen Patriot reported.

The driver of the semi-trailer and the conductor of the train along with others were taken to Allegiance Health with non-life threatening injuries, Blackman-Leoni Township Public Safety Director Mike Jester told the newspaper.

Jester said the semi-trailer, a lowboy trailer, was stuck on the tracks as the train approached the crossing at Portage Road near E. Michigan Avenue.

There were 68 passengers and five crew members on the westbound train, Amtrak said. The engine and two cars derailed in the crash, officials said.

Erik Swanson of Pontiac, who suffered a back injury, told the newspaper he was sleeping and the collision knocked his seat loose.

The Amtrak train that runs through Jackson County makes a stop in Ann Arbor on its way from Pontiac to Chicago.

The track was damaged and the route will be closed for some time, Jester said. Amtrak was making alternate transportation arrangements for passengers.

Norfolk Southern, which owns the tracks where the crash occurred, told the Citizen Patriot it would investigate the crash.

The Citizen Patriot has posted several articles about the crash:


A derailed train car.

Jackson Citizen Patriot photo



Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 8:35 p.m.

This is semantical but since a train is on tracks and always has the right of way, I would think its more accurate to state the incident as truck crashes into train. Literally speaking, the train ran into the truck since the semi was was stuck on the tracks; but it caused the crash. Leading with the "train crashing" into a truck might convey blame or culpability when the train cannot be at fault in this case; which is the definition of an accident. Just semantics I know - but am I crazy or nitpicking or both?


Thu, Feb 2, 2012 : 5:29 p.m.

I'll be generous and say just nitpicky.


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 8:02 p.m.

If you've been on one of these trains in the last 10 years you'd know the cars are disgusting. They smell what can only be described as baby diapers and body odor mixed together. I'd ride the train more often if the rolling stock was newer. Maybe Amtrak will take this opportunity to buy some new rail cars?????


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 7:02 p.m.

I'll be interested to hear follow up on how in the world this could have happened. Stalled, vs stuck, vs trying to beat the train? If it was indeed stalled or stuck, then for how long before the accident. Is there any emergency band they can call in to on their CB's, or if they call 911 on a cell phone is there any efficient network connected to rail services to notify them of an obstruction? Sure seems like there should be - please do follow up on this and let us know as details come available. Just curious. I hope everyone involved in the accident comes out okay.


Thu, Feb 2, 2012 : 1:13 p.m.

My thoughts exactly. Was this truck trying to beat the train? Or was he truly stuck. If he was stuck then why was NTSB and Amtrak not notified. I mean they do if a school is stuck. Go figure.


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 5:34 p.m.

Maybe someone at the CitPat would be willing to provide a photo that's in focus. (I realize I'm getting old, but that top photo is more than just a little hard to look at.)

Mike D.

Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 5:22 p.m.

The three-and-a-half-hour drive from Ann Arbor to Chicago we made last Friday in the comfort of a car sounds pretty good right now.

Mike D.

Thu, Feb 2, 2012 : 1:03 p.m.

Joe, have you ever been in a BMW?


Thu, Feb 2, 2012 : 4:13 a.m.

Comfort of a car? Have you ever been in a car?


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 6:04 p.m.

Trains are not uncomfortable. You can walk around, read etc. Midwestern people for some reason just hate them in fact and in concept.

Dog Guy

Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 5:06 p.m.

High speed rail: The faster you go the bigger the mess.


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 7:01 p.m.

There is no high-speed rail with at-grade crossings.

Buster W.

Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 5:12 p.m.

And this is why high speed rail should be elevated from the ground.


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 5 p.m.

Just read the article in Jackson Citizen-Patriot. It will be interesting to see after the NTSB investigates this as to why this truck driver was stopped on the tracks.