Amtrak train collides with tractor in White County

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WHITE COUNTY, Ind.— Two people sustained minor injuries after an Amtrak train collided with a farm tractor in White County Wednesday morning.

Amtrak officials said a train that departed from Indianapolis to Chicago struck the tractor at a railroad crossing near Monon, Ind. at approximately 8:30 a.m.

“The driver of the tractor and the train engineer have been transferred to a nearby hospital for treatment,” said Sheriff Patrick Shafer with the White County Sheriff’s Department.

The driver of the tractor has been identified as David Allen, 40, of Reynolds, Indiana. IU Health White Memorial Hospital officials told Fox59 he was treated and released. The train engineer has not been identified.

Eighty-nine passengers were aboard the train at the time of the incident.

“All of the sudden, I see all of this smoke out of my window, and the train starts coming to a halt, and I thought, what in the world just happened? The gentleman in front of me was thrown off his seat,” said Jean Breaux, a train passenger.

Authorities said the tractor was pulling a tank containing anhydrous ammonia.  Fire officials said there was no leak or threat, but HAZMAT crews were on the scene as a precaution. Anhydrous Ammonia is a farm fertilizer that can become toxic gas when airborne.

“You can’t survive being enveloped in a cloud of anhydrous ammonia. It adheres to anything that’s moist. If you breathe it in, it destroys yours lungs and your eyes,” said Monticello Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Chief Walter Hickman.

The passengers were loaded into school buses and brought to a nearby fire station where they were given food and water by Red Cross Volunteers. Then, they were transported to Chicago via charter buses.

“We’re from Indianapolis and we were heading to a Reds game in Chicago,” said Zach Wilkes, another train passenger.

“We’re lucky that the content within the tank stayed within it,” said Sheriff Shafer.

Railroad officials and an Indiana State Police accident reconstruction team are investigating.

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