68 Injured in Upstate N.Y. Amtrak Accident

ByABC News

Feb. 5, 2001 -- An Amtrak passenger train rear-ended a freight train in New York state today, injuring 68 people, officials said.

There were 15 serious injuries, including four critical. Another 53 people were described by officials as "walking wounded" — bruised, bloody, shaken up.

Some people had to be extricated from the front car, which was described as "pretty well mangled," said Tara Howard of WSYR Radio, an ABC affiliate.

Some fuel leaked from one of the engines, but the spill was small and it was quickly contained.

According to Amtrak, the five-car train was heading to NewYork City from Niagara Falls. There were 98 passengers and four crew members. The CSX freight train, consisting of 92 cars and two locomotives, was en route from Montreal to Albany.

According to Phil Politano, a spokesman for Rural Metro Ambulance, 31 people were taken to area hospitals. There were a number of sight-impaired people traveling on the train and twopassengers were in wheelchairs. The most severe injuries appearedto be among those passengers, Politano said.

Some of the victims were lying on stretchers near the tracksafter the crash. One passenger, a man who appeared to be in his 70s, seemeddazed as he sat in a wheelchair near the accident scene.

The man's leg was fractured, according to the Rev. Robert Dwyerof East Syracuse, who came to the scene to assist the victims.

"He's a prayerful person, so that helps," Dwyer said of theman. "He's got pain. I don't know what else."

Collision Occurred Near Syracuse

The trains collided at 11:37 a.m. east of Syracuse in the town of DeWitt. The Amtrak train had just left the Syracuse station when it rear-ended the CSX train. According to a CSX spokesman, both trains were traveling east on the same tracks.

No cars were toppled, but wheels had come off the tracks. Lumber that was being carted by the CSX train was strewn around the area.

Police estimate that the Amtrak train was only traveling at 5-10 mph and that the CSX train was also moving slowly when the accident occurred.

"I don't have a speed, but I know they weren't going terriblyfast. Otherwise we would have had a lot more serious injuries,"Politano said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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