Moorpark, California: An Amtrak train carrying nearly 200 passengers struck a county water truck and derailed on Wednesday in Southern California, critically injuring the truck's driver, authorities said.
Three of the train’s seven cars went off the tracks following the collision in Moorpark, said Ventura County Fire Department Captain Brian McGrath. The derailed train cars remained upright on tracks adjacent to an orchard and bare sections of land.
Fourteen people on the train were taken to hospitals with minor injuries, while the truck driver was taken to a trauma center with a head injury, McGrath said.
Parts of the demolished Ventura County Public Works truck were scattered all around the derailed train cars. McGrath initially said the truck’s driver was believed to have gotten out of the vehicle before the crash, but later clarified that the circumstances leading up to the wreck weren't known.
“No one’s talked to him, so the whole situation is still being investigated,” he said.
Mindy Faver was seated facing the rear of the train after a trip with her mother, Shari Peterson, returning from visiting family in Oregon.
“All of a sudden: Smack!” Faver said, describing the impact. Then Faver saw what she later found out was the water truck’s tank tumbling past her window.
Most of the passengers were able to get off the train cars on their own or with the aid of first responders, McGrath said. TV news helicopters showed numerous people, many carrying luggage, milling about in a field as firefighters worked the scene.
“It could have been a lot worse,” Faver told the Ventura County Star.
The train was on its way to Los Angeles from Seattle when “it struck a water truck obstructing the tracks” at 11:15 a.m., Amtrak said in a statement.
“There were approximately 198 passengers and 13 crew onboard who were evacuated from the train, with no reports of serious injuries,” the statement said. “Amtrak is working with customers to make alternate travel arrangements. Amtrak, in coordination with local authorities, is conducting a full investigation.”
Crews were able to quickly douse a small fire, McGrath said.
Moorpark is a city of some 35,000 people located about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northwest of downtown Los Angeles.