Train crash closes major highway in Tangipahoa Parish

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wwltv.com

Posted on July 14, 2014 at 6:09 PM

Updated Monday, Jul 14 at 6:09 PM

Ashley Rodrigue / Eyewitness News
Email: arodrigue@wwltv.com | Twitter: @ashleyrwwl

AMITE, La. -- As emergency crews worked to secure a dump truck and Amtrak train crash scene Monday afternoon, between Independence and Amite, investigators worked to piece together how it happened.

“We had a significant flash fire from damage to the truck that was crossing. Significant damage to the engine of the train and other parts of the train. We had a flash fire on the east side of the train where the diesel storage was," Tangipahoa Fire District #1 Chief Bruce Cutrer said.

At the same time, the truck driver was sent to the hospital and the almost 200 train passengers were loaded up into buses to finish their trip to New Orleans.

"Most of them were alright," said Ricky Rogers, who lives across from the crash scene. "They were very frightened by the shaking of the train and the gas leak and everything."

Rogers helped calm the nerves of people he says were from as close as Tennessee and as far as Ireland and Australia.

"We tried to put benches down to get them out of the sun, brought them some waters, whatever they needed," he said.

Authorities say the crossing where the crash happened has seen its share of similar incidents, but Rogers doesn’t fault the lack of safety features there.

"The train stays on the track. It's the people that need the orientation." As of news time, Highway 51 was still closed in both directions at the crash site. Amtrak says the crash has not affected any of its other schedules.

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