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Truck and train collide, leaving a half-dozen dead

Motor vehicle accidents can happen anywhere, including here in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

In a recent truck accident in Nevada involving a tractor-trailer and a train, fatigue or distraction could have been a factor in the incident.

The big rig was heading down a road at 70 mph. As it approached a set of train tracks, the driver did not notice that the signals were flashing and the crossing arms were down. Braking late, the truck and the driver slammed into an Amtrak train with such force that it left the truck practically fused to the train.

The accident left two of the train's cars torched. Forensic anthropologists, who are specialists focused on the analysis of scenes involving accidents and crimes, were likely joining the investigation to look for bodies in one of the two devastated train cars.

The death toll stands at six while the number of injured is at least four times as much. The whereabouts of another five people are still unknown. Both the truck driver and the train conductor perished in the crash.

The company that the trucker was driving for had been cited for seven safety infractions since September. The specific truck and driver involved in the incident were not one of the seven violations.

Officials say that the safety signals at the crossing were working properly at the time of the accident. According to investigators, the truck did not begin braking until it was approximately 320 feet away from the intersection. The late brake may have been because the driver was distracted or tired.

The large truck was hauling three trailers, so its momentum would have taken much more space than 320 feet for it to come to a complete stop.

This horrific crash shows again just how deadly tractor-trailers can be. We don't know yet the reasons for this fatal accident, but we do know that truckers who are fatigued, distracted or intoxicated pose much greater dangers to others than rested, sober drivers.

Source: Reuters: Truck firm in Amtrak crash cited for prior violations by Molly O'Toole: June 27, 2011

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