A big rig collided with an Amtrak train as it crossed U.S. Highway 95 in rural Nevada on Friday morning, killing at least six and injuring at least 94 people. The driver of the big rig failed to recognize rail crossing signs indicating the Amtrak train was crossing the highway, and did not slow down in time to avoid slamming into the train. The collision caused a fire that ended up spreading to three train cars.
Lawrence Valli, the big rig driver, was among those killed, as was the conductor of the train. Many of those injured in the fatal crash were taken to nearby hospitals. Others with serious injuries had to be rushed by ambulance or airlifted to hospitals in Reno and Fallon.
Authorities believe that speed may have played a role in the fatal crash, as the truck left skid marks that measured over a football field long. Investigators are also awaiting toxicology reports to see if drugs may have been in the driver’s system at the time of the crash. His cell phone was also found and has been taken to a lab for analysis.
Valli worked for John Davis Trucking Company, who has been cited 16 times in the last two years for safety violations. Valli himself had been cited multiple times for speeding while driving a commercial vehicle amongst other infractions.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is currently leading an investigation into the cause of this fatal crash. It could take a year to produce a final report detailing the crash’s exact cause.
A number of lawsuits have been filed since the fatal crash. Amtrak has filed a lawsuit against the trucking company and the deceased driver, citing negligence among other allegations. The lawsuit was filed in federal court and detailed a loss of property totaling over $10 million as a result of the crash. A train attendant wounded in the horrific crash has also filed a lawsuit against John Davis Trucking Company. Another lawsuit filed by an Amtrak attendant, lists Amtrak amongst the defendants and states that passengers were unable to properly exit the mangled wreckage because a baggage car door remained locked.