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911 call center says it contacted wrong railroad about car stuck on tracks in southwestern Michigan

UPDATE 11/21/23 9:10 a.m.

NEW BUFFALO, Mich. (AP) — A 911 call center on Monday took some responsibility for an Amtrak train derailment last week in southwestern Michigan, saying it misidentified a crossing and contacted a different railroad to warn that a car was stuck on tracks.

The train with 200 passengers crashed into the empty car and a tow truck Thursday night near New Buffalo, about 70 miles (110 kilometers) east of Chicago. Six people on the train were taken to a hospital, though their injuries weren’t serious.


The Chicago-bound train derailed but remained upright.

The Berrien County Public Safety Communication Center said it received two 911 calls about a car on the tracks, roughly 40 minutes before the crash.

Because of a “software issue,” the wrong crossing was identified and CSX railroad was contacted — not Amtrak, the county said.

“It appears a technology failure and misidentification of a crossing contributed to the accident,” 911 Director Caitlin Sampsell said in a statement.


Sampsell’s remarks confirm what Amtrak said last week: The train’s engineer had no warning about the stranded vehicle until it came into view at some point before the crash.

“If they had notified us properly, we would have stopped that train well short of the crossing,” spokesman Marc Magliari said Monday.

Full service on the route, between Chicago and many Michigan communities, resumed Sunday.

The county said the technology problem at the 911 call center has been fixed.


11/17/23 10:00 a.m.

NEW BUFFALO (AP) — An Amtrak train heading to Chicago with 200 passengers derailed after striking an unoccupied vehicle on the tracks in southwestern Michigan, authorities said Friday.

“The engineer and approximately 10 passengers received non-life threatening injuries and were treated by local ambulance services,” the Berrien County sheriff’s office said.

The train derailed but remained upright.


The crash happened Thursday evening near New Buffalo in Michigan’s southwestern corner, about 70 miles east of Chicago.

The vehicle was stuck on the tracks and was in the process of being removed when the train hit it, the sheriff’s office said.

Passengers were taken to New Buffalo High School. Some were picked up by family and friends while others continued their trip to Chicago on buses arranged by Amtrak, the sheriff’s office said.

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