Another street-level train crossing — and another frightening accident.
Except this time no one died.
The engine of a New York-bound Amtrak train toppled over and two passenger cars derailed in Halifax, North Carolina Monday after slamming into a tractor trailer that several witnesses say appeared to have got stuck on the tracks of a grade crossing.
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In all, 62 people were injured -- and 46 of them were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries, officials with the North Carolina Department of Transportation said.
On board were 212 people and eight crew.
Things could have been far worse, as recent history has shown.
In early February, just north of New York City, an MTA Metro-North train packed with evening rush hour commuters trying to get home to the suburbs slammed into an SUV on the tracks of a grade crossing in the Westchester hamlet of Valhalla.
The electrified third rail pierced the first car and five men inside died, as did the woman driving the SUV.
Weeks later, a Los Angeles-bound Metrolink train hit a truck stuck on the tracks on Oxnard, injuring 50 people and killing the commuter train’s operator.
For years, regulators and rail advocates have called for better safety at grade crossings, where the only thing between cars and a barreling train is a stick wood crossing gate.
After the Metro-North tragedy, Sens. Charles Schumer of New York and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, called for increased funding to upgrade safety at accident-prone crossings. In 2013 alone, 200 people died at similar crossings.
“It is critical that the federal government do more to make engineering upgrades at accident-prone crossings, boost public awareness of the dangers at such crossings, and improve reporting of dangerous problems at crossings,” said Schumer.
Their Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Safety Act of 2015 would boost funding for the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), states and municipalities to make engineering and safety upgrades, like installing new lights and signals.
The FRA said Monday it will probe the Amtrak collision and the NTSB said it was monitoring developments. Amtrak officials plan their own investigation.
The train is known as the The Carolinian and runs daily with local stops throughout the south before eventually hitting Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Delaware, Trenton, and New York’s Penn Station.
The Amtrak hit the mid-section of the tractor trailer, which one local Halifax woman said was going back and forth trying maneuver a turn at from U.S. Route 301 onto a more narrow two-lane road.
On board, passengers described some frightening moments.
"There was a massive jerk and we were kind of thrown forward a little bit, and the train came to a sudden stop," Charlotte Story, a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who was in the seventh car, told local CBS affiliate WRAL .
A passenger making the 10-hour trip north to NYC, 21-year-old Patrick Narmi, said the conductor slammed on the breaks moment before the accident and he watched out the window what happened next.
"A few seconds later, I heard the impact ...The train ran right through it," he told the Raleigh News & Observer. Narmi flew from his seat, and landed head first into the seat in front of him, before falling to the floor.
Story also said that the breaking was sudden: "I couldn't tell you if it was trying to slow down or not. ...It came completely out of the blue."
Locals called it a miracle that a bigger tragedy did not happen.
The tractor trailer was carrying a modular building that was destroyed, and had North Carolina state troopers escorting it.
"It looked like something exploded I mean the structure that you see behind me and the engine of the train went airborne and they both went high enough that they were above the treeline, a cloud of dust, it rattled the van, it rattled the ground," Jamie Carter told local NBC.
"When it came to rest, seeing it from the side we were on--the other side of it and seeing it from the side seeing where that structure landed--it's a miracle. God had his hands on this entire scene."