New details emerge in Amtrak-truck crash

Officials survey the area around an Amtrak train, background, that collided into a tractor-trailer July 11 in North Berwick, Maine.
AP
Officials survey the area around an Amtrak train, background, that collided into a tractor-trailer July 11 in North Berwick, Maine.
Posted Sept. 11, 2011, at 8:03 a.m.
The charred engine of the Amtrak train that collided into a tractor-trailer is seen Monday, July 11 in North Berwick, Maine.
AP
The charred engine of the Amtrak train that collided into a tractor-trailer is seen Monday, July 11 in North Berwick, Maine.

NORTH BERWICK, Maine — A North Berwick police report on the July 11 tractor trailer and Amtrak train collision gives further details into the accident that killed a Farmington man.

The driver of the 18-wheel tractor trailer “braked hard” and skidded over the yellow center lines into the path of the Amtrak Downeaster train, according to the police report. When the collision occurred as the train’s lead engine crashed into the cab of driver Peter Barnum, killing Barnum in an explosion that sent his body 350 feet away from the point of impact, into a neighboring field.

The report was prepared by Officer Timothy Niehoff, who stated that after the collision destroyed the cab of the truck, the truck’s trailer whipped around and slammed into the train’s second car, which knocked its rear wheels off the track. The collision also forced the trailer’s cargo door open, which scattered the trash it was carrying onto the tracks and surrounding areas, according to the Portland Press Herald, which offered details of the police report.

The Massachusetts company that owned a trash hauling truck that collided with a moving Amtrak train in Maine is asking for more time to answer a civil lawsuit by Amtrak, which is seeking to recover its costs from the crash.

Attorneys for Triumverate Environmental Inc., of Somerville, Mass., filed papers  on Thursday in federal court in Massachusetts that gives them until Sept. 26 to answer the complaint from National Railroad Passenger Corp., Amtrak’s parent company.

The amended complaint, filed by National Railroad Passenger Corp. represented by John Bonistalli of Boston, alleges that despite the crossing protection guards being in proper working order, the tractor-trailer truck, which was driven by 35-year-old Peter Barnum of Farmington, N.H., was operated around the crossing guards and into the moving Amtrak train.

Also under “General Allegations,” the suit alleges, “Barnum failed to heed the warnings,” and “Barnum negligently operated the tractor trailer combination so as to cause it to pass in front of a train.”

In relief, the National Railroad Passenger Corporation is asking that Triumverate award monetary support for the damage caused during the accident to Amtrak’s engine and passenger cars, legal and investigative fees, as well as funds for loss of business.

The official court document, as filed with the U.S. District Court, cited the total damage amount to exceed $3 million, though “the exact amount is unknown.”

(c)2011 the Foster’s Daily Democrat (Dover, N.H.)

Distributed by MCT Information Services

 

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