1 dead after Amtrak train hits pickup in Lawton

Lawton, Amtrak train crash
The scene where an Amtrak train struck a vehicle in Lawton. (Dec. 19, 2017)

LAWTON, Mich. (WOOD) — One person was killed when an Amtrak train crashed in to a pickup truck in Lawton Tuesday evening.

The crash happened shortly after 7 p.m. at the railroad crossing at Nursery Street.

Lawton Police Department Chief Jeffrey Mack said that when emergency responders arrived on the scene, they found one person outside the pickup. That person was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The victim’s name was not immediately released pending notification of his family members. Mack said he is not a local. He did not know the victim’s precise age.

“The vehicle was stuck on the tracks just to the west side of Nursery Street. It is unknown at this point why the vehicle was there,” Mack said.

Mack said witnesses told investigators they heard the truck’s engine revving, indicating it was trying to get off the tracks, just before they heard the crossing’s alarm activate.

Lawton, Amtrak train crash
Photo: Crews investigate and clean up after the crash. (Dec. 19, 2017)

Amtrak’s interactive service map shows the Blue Water line train was stopped between Nursery and County Road 657, just outside the village limits in Antwerp Township. The pickup was dragged along with it.

“We were just outside of Lawton, had just passed through Lawton and 15 minutes out of Kalamazoo. Suddenly there was a loud noise. The lights dimmed on the train, went out on the train,” passenger Alonzo Hannaford told 24 Hour News 8 over the phone.

“We could hear the debris hitting underneath of the train for quite a while,” he continued. “It took the train probably a mile to stop. They told us the train hit a vehicle.”

He said that after a short time, the train’s second engine was started to provide passengers with power and heat. Hannaford said he and other passengers were moved back from the front of the train because there was a smell of fuel.

Amtrak spokeswoman Christina Leeds told the Associated Press there were no injuries reported to the crew or the train’s 215 passengers.

Buses were called to take the passengers to the train station in Kalamazoo.

The extent of the damage to the train is not yet known.

The Blue Water line runs between Chicago and Port Huron with stops in Niles, Dowagiac, Kalamazoo and Battle Creek, among other locations.

The Amtrak service map also shows the Wolverine Service train, which runs from Chicago to Pontiac and includes a stop in Kalamazoo, is stopped west of Lawton, presumably because of the investigation happening farther ahead on the tracks.

–The Associated Press contributed to this report.