NTSB recovers event recorder from Amtrak train that collided with CSX train

LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) - Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board say they located and successfully downloaded an event recorder that told the story of the final seconds before an Amtrak commuter train collided with a freight train Sunday morning.

The Amtrak train's event recorder found seven seconds before the crash, the train's horn was activated as it traveled 56 miles per hour down the track. Five seconds before the crash, the train's brakes were applied Three seconds before the crash, the train's emergency brakes were applied.

NTSB Chairman Bob Sumwalt said the Amtrak train was not speeding before the collision.

Still, the Amtrak train collided with the parked CSX train near Charleston Highway and Pine Ridge Road in Cayce around 2:45 a.m. SundayThe collision was so powerful, it pushed the CSX train back 15 feet.

NTSB investigators remain at the scene and likely will throughout the weekend as they say the "slow and deliberate" removal of the train from the track continues.

"I'm confident that our investigators will be able to piece this back together," Sumwalt said.

But the focus continues to be on a manually-operated switch at the site of the collision. Sumwalt said that indications were that the PTC system -- a system designed to help stop trains before a collision -- was being prepared to be installed on the tracks prior to the crash.

Sumwalt said during a Feb. 4 press conference that the Amtrak train was traveling on CSX tracks owned by CSX. The lines, as shown by a hand-written diagram, were in a "lined and locked" position. Instead of continuing on the south track, the Amtrak train traveled to another track, where it collided the CSX train.

"We have heard but not confirmed that the signals were being worked on," Sumwalt said.

The Red Cross of South Carolina had an emergency shelter set up at Pine Ridge Middle School, but all of the passengers have left and the shelter has closed.

Palmetto Health received 62 patients, including 59 adults and 3 children. Fifty-six patients were evaluated, treated, and released. Two patients remain in critical condition and two are in serious condition.

"They were very lucky, the majority of the casualties were minor injuries," Dr. Stephen Shelton with Palmetto Health said.

City of Cayce Mayor Elise Partin expressed her condolences in a statement Monday:

"Yesterday, tragedy struck as two trains collided only a few miles from City Hall including the loss of two men, Michael Kempf and Michael Cella, whose lives will not be forgotten.

Pine Ridge Drive is currently blocked as a part of the investigation and officials ask people to stay away from the area during this time. Drivers are urged to find an alternate route.

Copyright 2018 WIS. All rights reserved.