Amtrak train smashes into pickup truck crossing track in Irvington

Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 9:47 PM CDT
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IRVINGTON, Ala. (WALA) - An Amtrak train on a training run Tuesday smashed into a pickup truck crossing the track, injuring three people.

According to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, the collision occurred just before 11 a.m. Cove, Texas, resident Hao Trans, 55, was driving a 2006 Ford pickup truck. Troopers said he and two passengers went to Providence Hospital with minor injuries.

Irvington resident Jessica Phipps said she and her sister were at Palmer’s Quick Stop at the intersection of U.S. 90 and Bayou La Batre Irvington Highway when she heard the crash from the railroad track behind the store.

“It sounded like lightning crashing, to me, it did,” she said. “That’s what I heard. That’s what I thought it was.”

Phipps said he whipped around and got a glimpse of the horrific aftermath.

“Oh my gosh, it was freaky to me,” she said. “I mean, I thought somebody was badly hurt ‘cause a train hitting a truck. I thought they were really hurt bad. But they wasn’t.”

Phipps said she and her sister ran down to the track to help the people who were in the truck and called 911.

“The passenger, he got out and laid on the ground, was screaming about his chest hurting,” she said. “I guess the airbag hit him in the chest. He was hollering he couldn’t breathe.”

An employee at the store told FOX10 News that one of his regular customers beat the train just ahead of the accident and vowed never to try something like that again.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said none of the crewmen were hurt. The accident delayed the train for an hour and 46 minutes, and it then continued on its journey.

The train was on a “qualification run” that the company periodically has been running in preparation for the restoration of passenger rail service along the Gulf Coast, Magliari said. He said those runs are meant to train the crews and give them familiarity with the route.

The train on Tuesday, he said, had left Mobile and was headed for New Orleans. It was just an engine, a car and another engine.

“But it’s still a train, and people still have to pay attention,” he told FOX10 News.

It is clear a lot of drivers don’t. FOX10 News saw two vehicles drive around the gate arm later Tuesday ahead a freight train headed west. The gate arm on the south side of the tracks was not there. But Phipps said that wasn’t because of the wreck.

“After they done fixed the track, there was another – a big truck, tow truck or whatever truck, come by,” she said. “And the arm thing was coming down and hit the truck and broke it off.”

Phipps’ sister said she did not want to talk about the collision.

“She’s still shook up,” Phipps said. “She’s scarred from this. She thought, for sure, somebody would die.”