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Amtrak crashes 17 hours apart

January 23, 2019

CHESTERTON – A pair of Amtrak trains on routes between Michigan and Chicago were involved in crashes in Northwest Indiana this week after striking vehicles that were on the railroad tracks.

The first incident happened Sunday night when an eastbound Amtrak struck an unoccupied vehicle on the tracks in Chesterton.

Amtrak said in a statement that Pere Marquette train 370 was on its way from Chicago to Grand Rapids, Michigan, at about 7:30 p.m., carrying 163 passengers, when it struck an unoccupied vehicle that was obstructing the tracks.

No injuries were reported to passengers or crew on board.

Chesterton Police said the crash occurred at Calumet Road and Indian Boundary Road after the car got stuck on the tracks.

The driver, a 33-year-old Chesterton man, told police he was westbound on Indian Boundary approaching Calumet and attempted to turn when his car began to slide on the snow-packed road, according to a police report.

The 2007 Mazda struck a curb, then bounced off of the curb, flattening a tire, and continued north on Calumet, the report said. The driver said the vehicle came to a stop on the CSX tracks and became stuck.

Several other drivers got out of their vehicles to try to help move the vehicle off the tracks, but were unable to do so, the report said. The first police officer to arrive told the driver to get out of the car because a train was approaching.

The conductor told police that he had been advised to make an emergency stop, but the train, traveling an estimated 10-20 mph, was unable to stop in time to avoid the collision.

The report said it was snowing at the time, and the road was snow- and slush-covered. No citations were issued.

An Amtrak spokeswoman said the crash caused only “cosmetic damage” to the train, which continued on its route after a delay of about an hour and 40 minutes.

About 17 hours later, a westbound Amtrak train struck a semi truck Monday afternoon in Gary.

The train collided with the truck shortly before 12:45 p.m. at a grade crossing on Clark Road, just north of the Indiana Toll Road, according to Gary Police.

Amtrak said westbound Blue Water train 365 was on its way from Port Huron, Michigan, to Chicago, at about 12:38 p.m., carrying 205 passengers, when it struck a semi truck, which was obstructing the tracks.

There were initially no injuries reported, but later, five passengers reported minor injuries and were taken to a hospital, according to Amtrak.

The truck driver’s condition was not known.

Gary and Amtrak police are investigating the crash, which left the train tangled in steel wire, necessitating a long delay as debris was cleared.

—From staff and wire reports

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