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Amtrak Acela

One Indiana man is thanking his lucky stars after he managed to walk way rom a recent collision with a high-speed Amtrak train with only minor injuries. Authorities say Darryle See, a 22-year-old from Michigan City, IN, was walking along a train track shortly before noon last Friday when an Amtrak train bound for Chicago slammed into him.

According to police, the driver of the train sounded his horn multiple times, but See never heard any of the warnings. The reason? See was listening to loud music with his earphones in. The train, which was then moving at 110 miles per hour, crashed directly into See, throwing him more than 20 feet away from the track while sending his shoes flying nearly 150 feet from the accident scene.

See spoke to reporters from his hospital bed after the accident and said that he’s doing OK. See is alert and appears to be fine, though he has no memory of the accident itself. See suffered fractures in his pelvis, a broken arm and minor injuries to his neck. The police officer who responded to the accident said that in 20 years on the job he had never heard of anyone surviving a direct hit from a high-speed train.

See was incredibly, even impossibly lucky in his dealing with the Amtrak train. Just a few days later, on Sunday, a 26-year-old from the same town in Indiana was hit and killed by a train, an outcome which is far more common than the one enjoyed by See.

Though See miraculously survived his brush with the Amtrak train, his story highlights exactly why no one should ever walk on or near a railroad track or crossing while listening to music on headphones or earphones. Headphone-related injuries and deaths in the United States nearly tripled from 2005 to 2011, and more than half of the accidents involved people being hit by trains, according to a study by the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

It’s critical to remove earphones, turn down music, and refrain from texting when using designated railroad crossings, or when ever even crossing or walking anywhere in the vicinity of railroad tracks.

Though See was walking when the Amtrak train hit him, danger also exists at railroad crossings when trains collide with vehicles. According to the Federal Railroad Administration, there is a train collision or derailment every 90 minutes, the majority of which occur at or near railroad crossings. Some of these railroad crossing accidents occur because companies like Amtrak, CSX or Norfolk Southern failed to maintain the area around the tracks. Trees, buildings and overgrown vegetation can all block a driver’s view of an oncoming train. In other railroad crossing accidents, malfunctioning equipment may be to blame. Crossing gates, warning lights and bells can break, ultimately contributing to the risk of a deadly collision.

My firm handles exactly these kinds of cases and we have represented injured plaintiffs in major railroad derailments before. Our law firm represented victims in the Graniteville, South Carolina Norfolk Southern chlorine derailment and spill that blanketed chlorine gas across a small town in South Carolina. We have also worked on cases involving head-on collisions of freight engines, such as the Franklin, Virginia head-on crash involving a CSX train, as well as other railroad crossing wrongful death cases.


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