Dozens injured when Amtrak train is struck by 18-wheeler

This 18-wheeler was involved in an accident with an Amtrak train Friday evening on FM 686 in Dayton. The driver escaped without serious injuries.

By Vanesa Brashier,

An Amtrak train carrying passengers from Los Angeles to New Orleans was involved in a crash Friday afternoon outside of Dayton when an 18-wheeler pulled into the path of the oncoming locomotive.

The crash took place around 4 p.m. Friday on FM 686 East. No fatalities were reported but at last count 23 people were transported to Liberty-Dayton Regional Medical Center for injuries.

Sgt. Rob Willoughby, spokesperson for the Liberty County Office of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said the driver of the 18-wheeler did not stop at the railroad crossing and proceeded into the path of the oncoming train.

“According to the engineer, as the train was coming up to crossing, another truck and trailer crossed without stopping. The second truck – the one that was hit – proceeded through the cross right behind the first truck,” Willoughby said.

The crash caused the front locomotive engine to slightly derail off the track. The 18-wheeler was separated from the trailer it was trailer it was towing, with the two on opposite sides of the track afterward.

According to Willoughby, the remaining passengers on the train will be transported to Houston until arrangements can be made to get them to their destination.


Mass casualties are not common in Liberty County, but Matt Thornton, CEO of Liberty-Dayton Regional Medical Center, said the hospital is always ready should the need arise.

“We are always prepared to go on standby. Initially, as soon as we learned this was a mass casualty event, we went on ‘external disaster.’ That notifies all of our staff that are in the building that something is going on outside of our walls that may require a large response from us,” Thornton said. “We start by calling in additional resources based on what we are told by authorities to anticipate. That happens almost instantaneously.”

By the time patients arrive, their level of need has already been assessed by the medics attending to them.

“EMS does a fantastic job in determining how critical a patient is and which patients need to go in first. Then we triage them ourselves at the hospital just to be sure,” Thornton said. “Thankfully this doesn’t happen every day, but we are prepared as a hospital when it does happen.”

Thornton added that the last mass casualty incident took place a year or so ago when a local school bus carrying children was involved in a crash.

Patients who arrived at the hospital during the mass casualty for other medical emergencies were not turned away.

“We brought the train crash patients in through a separate entrance, so it would not interfere with our other patients coming in for care,” Thornton said. “We are still open to the general public and are still here to help residents of the community.”

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