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Local News

June 13, 2013

No passengers hurt in Amtrak-tractor crash

Tank of anhydrous ammonia not punctured.

MONON (AP) — An Amtrak train traveling from Indianapolis to Chicago on Wednesday collided with a farm tractor hauling a tank of anhydrous ammonia across a northern Indiana rail crossing, injuring two people, officials said.

White County Sheriff Patrick Shafer said the passenger train appears to have struck the trailer-mounted tank about 8:35 a.m. Wednesday near the town of Monon. He said the tank loaded with anhydrous ammonia — a farm fertilizer that becomes a toxic gas when airborne — was not punctured or leaking after the impact.

None of the train's 89 passengers were injured, but its engineer and the tractor's driver were hospitalized with injuries that were not believed to be serious. Shafer said the tank's front axle was damaged, as was the front of the train.

Investigators are still piecing together how the accident occurred, but Shafer said it's clear that everyone involved was very fortunate the tank didn't release its potentially deadly pressurized contents.

"You have a train loaded with passengers, you have the farmer himself and then you have the emergency personnel responding to the scene, so we're very lucky," Shafer said.

The tank separated from the tractor at the time of impact and remained on the CSX tracks, while the tractor continued into a nearby ditch.

Shafer said that workers from a fertilizer company were examining the tank.

Following the collision, school buses from the North White school district picked up the train's passengers and dropped them off at Monon's fire department.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said charter buses were scheduled to pick up the passengers in Monon and take them the rest of the way to Chicago.

He said the train involved in Wednesday morning's collision is the Hoosier State, which makes four trips a week between Indianapolis and Chicago.

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