2 dead, 116 injured after trains collide near Lexington South Carolina

(Courtesy: Lexington County Sheriff's Office)
(Courtesy: Lexington County Sheriff's Department)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WJBF) – The Lexington County Sheriff’s Office has released the identities of those killed the crash.

According to the Lexington County Sheriff’s Office twitter, Coroner Margaret Fish has confirmed the identities of the two people killed in the Amtrak Crash. Engineer Michael Kempf, 54, and conductor Michael Cella, 36, were killed.

Count on WJBF NewsChannel 6 to update you on this developing story. 


CAYCE, S.C. (AP) – Amtrak says train company CSX is responsible for maintaining signals, switching and the scheduling of trains along tracks in South Carolina where a passenger train struck a parked freight train.

The engineer and conductor of the passenger train were killed early Sunday morning in the crash near Cayce and 116 were taken to the hospital, most with minor injuries.

Amtrak said in a statement it is cooperating with the National Transportation Safety Board investigation into the crash and the company was deeply saddened by the deaths of its employees.

CSX didn’t immediately return an email and phone call Sunday.

No one was on board the CSX freight train, which South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster says was parked on a side track.

Count on WJBF NewsChannel 6 to update you on this developing story. 


COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal says the nation’s railroads must be made safer, following the latest deadly wreck involving Amtrak.

Authorities say an Amtrak passenger train slammed into a freight train parked on a side track in South Carolina early Sunday, killing two Amtrak employees and injuring more than 110 people.

It was the third deadly wreck involving Amtrak in less than two months.

Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, said Sunday that as incidents repeat, with injuries and deaths, “inaction is inexcusable.”

He says proven technology, including positive train control, cannot continue to be delayed.

Positive train control is a computer system that’s supposed to help avoid excessive speeds in dangerous situations.

Blumenthal has called for its implementation before. He says “business as usual must end” when it comes to train safety.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster says the two people killed when a passenger train struck a freight train in South Carolina were Amtrak employees.

McMaster said the CSX train was parked on what appears to be a side track when the Amtrak train heading from New York to Miami with 139 passengers slammed into the CSX train around 2:45 a.m. Sunday near Cayce.

McMaster says he was told the Amtrak train was going about 59 mph. He said 116 people were taken to hospitals.

Palmetto Health Director of Emergency Preparedness Dr. Steve Shelton says one patient is in critical condition and two are in serious conditions, with the rest suffering minor injuries, like cuts and bruises.

Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fisher identified the people killed as 54-year-old train engineer Michael Kempf of Savannah, Georgia, and 36-year-old train conductor Michael Cella of Orange Park, Florida.

Fisher says the men killed were in the train’s engine. She says she feels fortunate more people didn’t die.

Count on WJBF NewsChannel 6 to update you on this developing story. 


CACYE, S.C. (ABC) – At least 2 people are dead and at least another 70 injured after an Amtrak passenger train collided with a freight train in South Carolina early Sunday morning, officials said.

The two deaths occurred in the Amtrak train, not the freight train, Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fisher confirmed.

Injuries ranged from minor cuts to broken bones, a spokesman for the South Carolina Emergency Management Division told CNN.

Amtrak initially said in a statement, “Amtrak Train 91, operating between New York and Miami, came in contact with a CSX freight train at around 2:35 am in Cayce, South Carolina.”

The statement continued, “The lead engine derailed, as well as some passenger cars. There were 8 crew members and approximately 139 passengers, with injuries reported. Local authorities are on the scene responding. More information will be provided as available.”

CSX said in a statement, “This morning at approximately 2:30 a.m., an incident involving a CSX train and an Amtrak train occurred in Cayce, SC near Dixiana Road and S.R. 26. Reports of injuries have been confirmed. An emergency response plan has been activated to provide full support. Lexington County authorities have been notified and are responding to the incident. Additional information will be made available as details of the incident are confirmed.”

A spokesperson for Lexington Medical Center in West Columbia, South Carolina, told ABC News that it received 25 patients with minor injuries. The spokesperson added that Palmetto Health Center also received patients, but the number of patients and the injuries sustained is unclear.

The NTSB will investigate the incident. The NTSB go team will consist of more than a dozen investigators and support staff. Chairman of the NTSB board Robert Sumwalt will be the board member for the Go Team, an NTSB spokesperson told ABC News.

Count on WJBF NewsChannel 6 to update you on this developing story. 

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