Four people who died in Amtrak derailment identified

Mid-South

MENDON, Mo. (NewsNation) — The four individuals killed when an Amtrak train derailed after hitting a dump truck in Missouri were identified Thursday.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol said on Twitter the driver of the truck, who was pronounced dead at the scene, was Billy Barton II, 54, of Brookfield, Missouri. The three train passengers who died are Rochelle Cook, 58, from Desoto, Kansas; Kim Holsapple, 56, also from Desoto, Kansas; and Binh Pham, 82, from Kansas City Missouri.

The train was traveling from Los Angeles to Chicago Monday afternoon when it struck the truck, causing at least seven rail cars to tumble off the tracks and land on their sides.

Local residents say safety concerns have been raised for years over the site of the derailment.

In addition, residents insist improvements have been long overdue at this particular railroad crossing. Local leaders and neighbors say they’ve been asking for upgrades since 2019.

The crossing in question has no warning lights and no stop-arms, which isn’t uncommon in rural areas.

In March of 2021, local leaders, along with state railroad regulators from the Missouri Department of Transportation, met at the crossing.

Those officials said the crossing was on a list for upgrades, but no timeline for repairs was given. It ended up on another list of upgrades this year, but the project was not funded and again there was no timeline for repairs.

Last month, county commissioners made another plea to cut back brush to improve visibility at the crossing, and again, nothing happened. 

A spokesperson for the Missouri Department of Transportation said approving these projects takes a while, but otherwise, the agency has not specified why the concerns have not been addressed.

Meanwhile, investigators could release recorded data Wednesday that will show whether the train’s horn was blowing prior to the crash, how fast it was going, and whether the engineer tried to brake.

The NTSB said it was not aware of any prior complaints, but is now looking into it.

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