The Cheat Mountain Salamander is a sightseeing train named after a rare breed of lizard-like creatures found among the majestic red spruces of West Virginia. These magnificent trees, along with other species, draw crowds to the region every year to view the fall foliage and enjoy the crisp Appalachian air. One such group had a horrific surprise during October 2013 in the middle of a six-and-a-half-hour tour when a logging truck barreled into the side of their train.
Racing through flashing crossing signals that warned it to stop, the truck smashed into the train, overturning two cars. Two-dozen victims were injured in the crash, which left survivors at the scene. The truck driver perished in the accident. For now, it appears that the Cheat Mountain Salamander is going to be sidelined for the rest of 2013, with all trips on this train canceled for the time being.
Investigators are still searching for answers about why this crash occurred. Evidence at the scene indicates that the truck did not attempt to stop before colliding with the train. The local sheriff also reported that the warning lights were fully operational at this train crossing. Further confounding investigators, the truck driver was very familiar with this region of Randolph County, which is so remote it took first responders 30 minutes to arrive at the accident location.
This West Virginia crash is reminiscent of a similar accident in Maine in which a trash-hauling truck collided with an Amtrak passenger train. In that 2011 crash, the railroad gate had also been lowered and the warning lights alerted traffic to the oncoming train’s approach. The truck apparently skidded prior to traveling through the gates, but still hit the train at top speeds, throwing the driver from the cab to his death.
Railroad accidents often have a major impact on victims and their loved ones. If you or your loved one has been involved in a rail collision, don’t suffer in silence — call our railroad disaster attorneys today.