wjxt logo

Orange Park man dies in Amtrak train crash

2 dead, 100-plus injured in Amtrak train collision with CSX freight train

CAYCE, S.C. – An Orange Park man was one of two men killed and over 100 injured early Sunday when two trains collided in South Carolina. 

Amtrak conductor Micheal Cella, of Orange Park, and Amtrak train engineer Micheal Kempf, of Savannah, were killed when Amtrak Train 91, traveling between New York and Miami with 147 people aboard, collided with a CSX freight train in Cayce about 2:35 a.m., derailing the lead engine and some passenger cars, Amtrak said in a statement.

According to Lexington County spokesman Harrison Cahill, 116 people were injured and transported to local hospitals, with injuries ranging from scratches to broken bones. Officials had initially said 70 people with injuries were transported to hospitals for treatment, but later adjusted the figure.

The CSX train was stationary on the tracks, "awaiting a later movement," when the collision occurred, Gov. Henry McMaster said in a press conference Sunday morning. It's not believed anyone was on that train.

About 5,000 gallons of fuel was spilled, authorities estimated, but Cahill said there was "no threat to the public at the time."

The National Transportation Safety Board has launched an investigation, deploying a go-team consisting of experts in rail operations, mechanical, survival factors, human performance, recorders and signaling. They will work on the scene for the next 5-7 days. No finding of probable cause will be issued during the on-scene phase.

IMAGES: Amtrak train collides with CSX freight train in South Carolina

NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said in a press briefing that investigators have retrieved video from a forward-facing camera mounted in the Amtrak train. Sumwalt said the video has already been set to Washington and officials will release more information regarding its contents Monday. 

News4Jax spoke with one of Cella's neighbors who wished to remain unnamed. They said Cella left behind a wife and young children. 

"This situation actually is really sad, because those babies are really young and now they don't have their dad around," the neighbor said. "You turn on the news all the time and you hear about accidents here and someone losing their lives. But when it hits next door, it's really a shocker. 
(The) last thing I'd expect for you to tell me.

Anyone with questions regarding passengers on Amtrak Train 91 is asked to call 1-800-523-9101.