Amtrak train from Chicago to Port Huron hits car

From The Lansing State Journal:

An Amtrak train heading from Chicago to Port Huron struck a car west of Lansing Thursday evening, killing the car’s occupant and temporarily stranding about 120 train passengers.

The collision occurred about 9:30 p.m. near the intersection of Millett Highway and Lansing Road in Delta Township, according to John Clark, Delta Township Fire Chief.

The driver of the vehicle, who was believed to be the car’s only occupant, was killed, Clark said.

A female passenger on the train was treated and released for an unknown illness or injury.

About 120 people were on the eastbound train, and about 70 of those were to disembark at the East Lansing Amtrak station.

Clark said those passengers were being bused late Thursday on Waverly school district buses to the train station. The remaining 50 or so passengers were remaining on the train, which had heat and electricity, Clark said. It was not clear when officials would be able to restart the train.

Alexis Mayorga, 20, of Chicago was traveling on the train to visit a Michigan State University student, and said she had fallen asleep and awoke to notice the train had stopped. She said she takes the train every time she comes to East Lansing, and at first thought it was a temporary delay.

“Kind of a shock,” she said. “I was just hoping everyone was OK.”

Lee Stone of Aurora, Ill. was in the back of the train and traveling to East Lansing. He said he knew something was wrong, because “The train was slowing down way too fast to be coming up on any station.”

Clark said it is unclear what caused the crash, and whether the gates were functioning at the time of the incident or whether the driver tried to go around the gates. The tracks have both gates and flashing lights.

The Eaton County Sheriff’s Office has interviewed the train’s conductor, Clark said. a Sheriff’s Office official said the department could not have a statement until sometime Friday.

Investigators were examining the gates and lights at the railroad crossing shortly after midnight. Both appeared to be functioning normally.

An Amtrak reservations official says she was aware of the accident and that she had no other details. Amtrak police declined comment Thursday night.

The Associated Press and State Journal reporter Lindsay VanHulle contributed to this report.