LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) — The semi-truck that was struck by an Amtrak train in Lakeland Friday night was stuck on the tracks shortly before the crash, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies said the incident happened at about 7 p.m. Friday after the truck, which was hauling seven vehicles in its trailer, became stuck on the tracks while heading north on Canal Avenue North.
As the truck failed to clear the railroad crossing, an Amtrak train taking 163 passengers and 10 crew members from Miami to New York approached the crossing at about 78 mph, the sheriff’s office said.
According to the release, train engineer Ronald Webb of Jacksonville began blowing the train’s horn after spotting the semi-truck.
It was at this moment that the crossing arms and lights turned on, striking the truck. Dashboard camera footage of the incident, taken from a nearby vehicle, showed the impact.
The front of the truck was a few feet beyond the tracks, and when the train hit the trailer, it yanked the cab backwards. The dashboard camera footage showed several drivers stopping to help.
The Amtrak train came to a stop about 12 seconds after hitting the truck.
Deputies said the truck driver, Walberto Carrazana Bermudez of Homestead, and
his passenger, Jose Luis Lahera Vidal of Hialeah, jumped out of the vehicle before the crash.
According to the sheriff’s office, the Amtrak train collided with the truck and continued about 200 yards before stopping. The incident report, released Saturday, said the front part of the engine derailed and there was a small diesel leak.
A total of eight people suffered minor injuries. Seven of the injured people were taken to a hospital by ambulance while one person was taken in a private vehicle.
“It is truly a miracle that nobody was seriously hurt in this crash,” Sheriff Grady Judd said. “A collision between a passenger train and a semi-truck could have been much worse. Our sympathies are with those who were injured. I don’t think I could say enough about the incredible response and total team effort by all of the agencies involved.”
After the crash, Amtrak had the passengers and crew taken to Tampa on a bus. As for Bermudez, he was given a citation for insufficient clearance at a railroad crossing.
US 92 and Canal Avenue North were closed for about 10 hours as first responders cleared the scene. In total, the incident cost about $6 million to $10 million in damages.