At least six people are confirmed dead and over 20 people were injured after a semitrailer crashed into an Amtrak train on June 24, 2011 in the Nevada desert, 70 miles outside of Reno.
The crash occurred when the semi truck slammed into the Amtrak train, which was crossing US Highway 95. The semi slammed into one of the train's double-decker passenger cars, starting a fire that spread to three train cars. The conductor of the Amtrak train and the truck driver were among those killed in the fatal crash. There were around 75 people that had to be transported to hospitals with minor injuries. Others with more serious injuries were airlifted to nearby hospitals. One passenger listed on the train manifest is currently unaccounted for. The ten car train was filled with nearly 200 passengers and 14 crew members when the accident occurred.
Investigators are trying to piece together the events leading to the deadly crash. So far authorities are unsure how truck driver Lawrence R. Valli missed flashing lights and a crossing gate which warned motorists of an incoming train.
Investigators revealed that skid marks (measuring over 300 feet long) left by the semi truck seemed to indicate that the driver was traveling "at a considerable speed." The trucking company, John Davies Trucking, has had 19 previous safety violations, and Valli himself accumulated a long list of speeding tickets dating back to 2007. Authorities have also said that the safety equipment at the railroad crossing, including the crossing gates, red lights and bells were working fine. Autopsy results to determine if the driver was impaired by any drugs is currently pending.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) began their investigation into the fatal crash on Saturday. It could take up to a year for NTSB to produce a full report detailing the exact cause of the crash.