Amtrak Downeaster Train And Dump Truck Both Catch Fire In Deadly Collision

NORTH BERWICK, MAINE (CBS/AP) – An Amtrak Downeaster train carrying 112 people barreled into a dump truck in North Berwick, Maine just after 11 a.m. Monday, killing the driver of that truck.

An official from the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority confirmed that both the truck and the train caught fire.

In Pictures: Downeaster Crash

The explosion that sent flames more than three stories high, a witness and officials said.

WBZ-TV’s New Hampshire Bureau chief Lauren Leamanczyk reports.

None of the train’s 112 passengers or two crew members suffered life-threatening injuries. Patricia Quinn from the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority said four passengers and two crew members were hurt. Three were taken to Goodall Hospital in Sanford, where all were treated and released.

The truck driver was identified as 35-year-old Peter Barnum or Farmington, New Hampshire. He was hauling trash to a landfill when he collided with the train in North Berwick, about 40 miles south of Portland.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Bernice Corpuz reports.

Tom Gorski, who works in a building 50 yards from the intersection, said he heard the approaching locomotive, then a massive boom that shook the building.

He said he ran to the scene, where the truck’s cab was split with half on each side of the tracks. The ground was littered with trash from the tractor-trailer.

Watch SkyEye over the scene:

“It looked like somebody dropped a bomb. The flames were shooting higher than a three-story house,” said Gorski. “It brings tears to your eyes.”

There were skid marks on the road leading to the impact, suggesting the driver was trying to stop, Gorski said.

After the impact, the northbound train dragged the truck’s cab about 200 yards, then the train continued on before coming to a stop, said Deputy Fire Chief Larry Straffin.

The train’s engineer hopped off the locomotive and separated the burning engine from the passenger cars to keep the flames from spreading, Straffin said. Firefighters had to drag hose down the train tracks to douse the fire to the locomotive, he said.

It was unclear how many were injured. Amtrak said four people were hurt, and Straffin put the figure at six. Three were taken to Goodall Hospital in Sanford, where two were being treated for smoke inhalation and the third for a head injury, a spokeswoman said.

The locomotive was totally charred after the fire was extinguished, obscuring its markings, said Brianna Bataran, 17, of North Berwick. “You couldn’t even tell what kind of train it was.”

The collision happened on Route 4. The road remained closed Monday afternoon. Police chief Stephen Peasley told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Bernice Corpuz the plan was to reopen at least one lane by Monday night.

Service on the route was delayed after the collision. Nearly 1,400 passengers use the Portland-to-Boston service, which is operated by the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority in Portland.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments

One Comment

  1. emom says:

    Ah was there a gate on the road to prevent traffic from going over the tracks… or did the driver of the truck go around the gate…..But I bet there was flashing lights,,,,,, Was the driver blind then….. you could not see flashing lights on a railroad crossing. … to many pay chicken with a train..

    1. north berwick res says:

      we drive through this intersection all the time, there are lights
      still hearing sirens

      1. emom says:

        Lights but no drop gates.,,,, Seems like the truck driver ignored the lights and didnt care… Why play chicken with a train…

    2. trucker says:

      It is good to know we have experts like emom. You seem very judgemental. Did you ever think that the trucks brakes could have failed? Could the driver have had a medical issue? Bottom line is a fairly young man lost his life today.

      1. emom says:

        Its good to know that The gates where coming down,,, Truck brakes failed, if so where did skid markis come from illness there would be no brake marks… I want to believe its was possibly no ones fault but from what I have read that does not seem the case.. How many times have we seen such a story and how many times was it because of mechanical issues or illness. But the complete story has not unfolded but time will tell.

  2. MarkBot says:

    On this page, the video link “Skyeye Live Over The Scene” is broken. i also checked boston.cbslocal.com; the video seems to be missing there, as well.

  3. stevesaleeba says:

    emom — looks like there are drop gates. We’ll have a photo gallery and video up shortly.

  4. Ellen says:

    My father was an engineer for the old Boston and Main latter to become Amtrak, and he often said that people don’t realize that a train can not come to a stop like a car. After all it’s carrying thousands of pounds, but regardless my prayers goes out to the poor truck driver that was killed in this awful accident.

  5. tsal says:

    It would be irresponsible since the report is brief to say any more than this is a horrible tragedy. It seems that the engineer of the train was able to possibly save more from being hurt by disconnecting the engine from the rest of the train.

  6. rp says:

    in another report, i read that the driver had slammed on the brakes, trying to stop, so i’m guessing that he wasn’t paying attention and when he looked up it was too late. I have stopped at that crossing tons of times, waiting for trains. there’s plenty of warning and the gates come down with plenty of time before the train gets there.

    1. tsal says:

      can I assume you mean the driver of the truck?? What a shame.

  7. Lani Flanigan says:

    travel it every day and from the direction this truck was coming, road into North Berwick is slight hill. Between the first RR sign to the gates, which there is drop down gates, there is not enough time for a truck traveling 40mph[ speed limit here] to stop if not notified there is a train approaching. Per the skid marks and the terrain, doesn’t appear he was in excessive speed and did attempt to stop. However on this RTE you can see the train thru the landscape on the left, if the rain is headed north towards Portland. That gives you warning in that manner if you are aware of the road and travel it frequently.

  8. ddddd says:

    could be he had a heartattack

  9. Boston_Jarred says:

    emom, I don’t understand why so many esnobs like you are always so quick to condemn people with their ejudgement on something they know nothing about.
    The man died in a tragic accident. Have some decency. People like you only seem to have courage behind a screen.

    1. Jane says:

      I like this comment. Thank you.

      It sounds like the poor guy made a fatal mistake. There’s no indication that it was intentional or that he was trying to “beat the train” so people should just stop with their assumptions. A 35 yr old man lost his life… I agree with you Jarred, a little respect would be nice.

  10. H says:

    “The explosion that sent flames more than three stories high, a witness and officials said.” as a standalone sentence? The truck was “split with half”?

    I think perhaps that rather than rush out a sensationalistic story, perhaps five minutes needs to be taken to proofread things first.

    This is multiple instances of poor writing now since the website format was changed over. Judging from the reply made to a different query, this is once again the work of Mr. Saleeba, as was the other poorly-done article I recall.

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