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Collision between an Amtrak train and a semi-trailer injures 21 people [Updated]

August 6, 2010 | 11:09 pm

A southbound Amtrak train struck a semi-trailer truck and derailed near Bakersfield Friday afternoon, causing 21 people to suffer minor injuries, officials said.

The collision occurred at 3:55 p.m. near the town of Shafter. The train was traveling about 79 miles per hour when the truck carrying roofing materials crossed the track at the intersection of North Shafter Avenue and Highway 43, said Shafter police Sgt. Randy Milligan. The conductor locked the brakes but the train only slowed slightly before striking the back of the trailer. There were 219 passengers aboard.The truck driver walked away uninjured.

“I felt the brake and then a big explosion," passenger Michael Venneri told the Bakersfield Californian. He said pieces of debris flew past the window and the train jolted along before coming to a stop.

Witnesses said the crossing gates functioned properly, Milligan said. They were broken or damaged after the crash, he said, and police were investigating whether the driver ran through them.

--Joe Mozingo

[Updated at 9:35 p.m.: The truck driver was identified as 49-year-old Luis Camagro of McFarland, Calif., according to the Associated Press.]

Photo: Sean Work / The Californian