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Preliminary report released in fatal Albemarle Amtrak crash

ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. -- The garbage truck struck by an Amtrak train January 31 in Albemarle County attempted to cross the train tracks after the train track's crossing gates came down, according to a preliminary report released by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Christopher Foley, 28, of Louisa, was passenger in the garbage truck. He died as a result of the collision with the train that was carrying Republican members of Congress to a legislative retreat in West Virginia.

"The train's lead locomotive was equipped with a forward-facing track image camera. Data extracted from the camera postcrash showed that as the crossing came into view, the gates were down and the refuse truck was on the grade crossing. Witnesses to the crash reported that the refuse truck entered the crossing after the gates were down," the preliminary NTSB report revealed. "The Amtrak train was traveling about 61 mph when the engineer applied emergency braking. The train struck the left rear of the refuse truck, causing the truck to rotate counterclockwise and then collide with a railroad signal bungalow next to the tracks. The refuse body separated from the truck, and the truck’s two passengers were ejected."

In addition to Foley's death, the truck's other passenger was seriously injured. The truck's driver, three Amtrak workers, and three passengers on the train sustained minor injuries.

"NTSB investigators continue to examine issues related to the highway–railroad grade crossing. Investigators are also coordinating additional passenger and witness interviews and continue to gather information related to motor carrier operations, rail operations, and driver and train crew experience," an agency spokesperson said.

Another investigative report will be released in the coming months.