Amtrak Train Derails Near Jackson - WLNS TV 6 Lansing - Jackson | Your Local News Leader

Amtrak Train Derails Near Jackson

Chicago-bound Amtrak Train 351 collided with a semi-truck and near Jackson in Leoni Township Wednesday morning shortly before 8:30 a.m. A semi was stalled on the tracks near the intersection of Michigan and Portage Roads, just east of Jackson, causing the collision.

There were about 70 passengers and 5 crew members on the train, which was headed from Pontiac to Chicago. The train left Pontiac just after 6 a.m. It was supposed to arrive at 8:24 a.m. in Jackson and just before 11:30 a.m. in Chicago.

After the collision, the 8-car train fell on its side. The engine and 2 other cars derailed. Fortunately, no one was severely injured in the accident.

Passengers on the train had quite the shock when the accident happened.

"I was actually sleeping on the second cart that didn't derail and I woke up and heard 5 huge bangs and was lifted up out of my seat and I turned to the side and looked out the window and [the derailed car] almost hit us and knocked us off as well," said Michael Robinson, passenger.

"I initially heard the big bang and looked up and saw the food cart in front of us swaying back and forth and it got worse and worse and then we began to sway," said Christopher Dengate, passenger.

About 50 displaced passengers were dropped off by buses at the Amtrak Station after the derailment. It was a hectic day at the station, but Amtrak officials worked fast to get things under control and everything back on track.

Brian Karhoff has worked at that Amtrak station for 38 years. Within an hour of passengers arriving to the station from the scene, Karhoff and his crew were able to get people back on buses and on their way.

"Indian Hills provided two buses from here, one to Battle Creek then to Chicago…then one from Kalamazoo to Chicago," said Karhoff. 

Karhoff was quick to acknowledge the efforts of everyone involved. 

"Coordination between emergency dispatch, Jackson Ambulance…everything just seemed to click…and went off as smooth as it could with something like this," said Karhoff. 

Over at Allegiance hospital, the staff didn't know what to expect when they got the news. 

"Great response from all of our departments, our staff. We were prepared for the worst," said Brian Kossman, a nurse supervisor at Allegiance Health, "We had 4 trauma bays all situated and ready to go. You have to prepare for the worst…and hope for the best and this was the best."

Hospital officials say they had 12 patients show up all with minor injuries such as neck and back pain. The majority of those patients were discharged by 1 p.m.

The driver of the semi was also hurt. He was taken to a local hospital. Police say his injuries are not life-threatening. The train apparently hit the trailer of the semi, not the cab.

Wednesday night, crews are still working to fix the tracks and clean up the scene. Train service was delayed and disrupted throughout central Michigan all day. Officials hope to open the crossing and rail line sometime Thursday.

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