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– April 27, 2015

Amtrak: Crossing gate down in Calif. train crash

Three Amtrak cars derailed south of Hanford on Oct. 1 after colliding with a big rig (AP Photo)Three Amtrak cars derailed south of Hanford on Oct. 1 after colliding with a big rig (AP Photo)(AP) — The crossing gate was down, lights were flashing and bells were ringing when a big rig crashed into a passing Amtrak passenger train on Monday afternoon, an Amtrak official said.

 

Investigators probing the cause of the crash south of the farming community of Hanford plan to look at the condition of the big rig's driver — identified Tuesday as Macario Medina, 32, of McFarland — and of the truck.

Amtrak spokeswoman Vernae Graham said 39 people were injured in the crash.

Authorities have described the injuries as mostly bumps and bruises although Graham said at least one person suffered a broken leg.

"The whole crew was shaken up, obviously, so what we do is give them immediate relief from duty if they need it and have counselors check in with them within a 24-hour period," she said Tuesday.

Investigators will first try to determine Medina's state and then look at the vehicle, said California Highway Patrol spokesman Jerry Pierce. Medina went through the warning arms and hit the train before his truck overturned, according to the CHP.

Pierce said Tuesday morning that he had not yet interviewed Medina, who suffered moderate injuries.

The impact from the truck pushed two of the train's four cars and its locomotive off the tracks.

The train traveled about 600 feet (180 meters) after the collision before hitting a switchback and derailing, the CHP has said.

Officials have not determined how fast the train or the truck were going, but the average speed for Amtrak through the area is 70 mph to 80 mph, while the speed limit on the roadway where the truck was travelling is 55 mph, according to the CHP.

After the crash, metal pieces from the truck could be seen inside the train, which was covered by cotton seeds. Several pieces of luggage were also scattered around the area.

The train was on its way from Oakland to Bakersfield. It was being pushed by the locomotive and was struck between the locomotive and the last car, Graham said.

The track, meanwhile, reopened Tuesday morning after crews replaced hundreds of feet of damaged track and some signal equipment, BNSF Railway spokeswoman Lena Kent said. BNSF owns the line.

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Written on 04/27/2015, 4:42 pm by BRANDON BAILEY, AP Technology Writer
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Written on 04/27/2015, 1:49 pm by Business Journal Staff
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Written on 04/27/2015, 1:48 pm by Business Journal staff
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Written on 04/27/2015, 1:18 pm by chrisrose
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Written on 04/27/2015, 1:15 pm by ALANNA DURKIN, Associated Press
(AP) — Maine must ensure that hayrides are inspected to help prevent accidents like one that killed a 17-year-old girl and injured more than 20 others last year, a state lawmaker said Monday. Republican Rep. Robert Nutting told the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee that someone who pays for a hayride should be able to expect that it has been judged to be safe. He was asked to introduce the legislation by the parent of one of the young people who was injured in the October accident at Harvest Hill Farms in Mechanic Falls that killed Cassidy Charette, he said. "The tragic loss of Cassidy Charette's life may have been what it took to make things safer for all who look for a little fun and a little scare on an amusement ride," Nutting said. Authorities have said it appears that a mechanical problem caused the Jeep towing a wagon full of passengers on a Halloween-themed ride to crash down a hill in the woods and slam into a tree. The report detailing the findings of the state's investigation has not yet been released to the public. Most states don't have strict hayride regulations. The National Conference of State Legislatures said in October that Rhode Island is the only state that explicitly requires a permit to operate hayrides. In Maine and other states, operators must display signs warning of the rides' dangers, but there's no requirement that the rides be checked for things like working brakes. Nutting's bill would restore the ability of the state fire marshal's office to regulate amusement rides, which lawmakers inadvertently repealed last session. It would also specify that hayrides be inspected. But Fire Marshal Joseph Thomas said requiring his office to oversee hayrides would be costly because his inspectors aren't trained to examine motorized vehicles and wagons. Some lawmakers on the committee suggested that state police, which oversee vehicle inspections, would be better suited for the job. The owner of Harvest Hill Farms didn't immediately respond to a message left Monday. But Barbara Peavey, co-owner of a corn maze in Corinna that operates hayrides, said in an interview that she thinks inspections are a good idea. "Anyone can hook up anything to a hayride now ... and they're not being checked," said Peavey, who runs Thunder Road Farm Corn Maize. "Everything else needs to be regulated for safety reasons, and I think this should be, too."
Written on 04/27/2015, 1:13 pm by MICHAEL LIEDTKE, AP Business Writer
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Written on 04/27/2015, 1:11 pm by DAVE GRAM, Associated Press
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Written on 04/27/2015, 11:21 am by MICHAEL GRACZYK, Associated Press
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Written on 04/27/2015, 11:19 am by Associated Press
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Written on 04/27/2015, 11:18 am by MARTHA MENDOZA, AP National Writer
(AP) — Surfers catching waves and mountain bikers pedaling through forests are used to the occasional low flying pelican or diving hawk, but these days outdoor recreationalists can find what's up in the air isn't a bird at all, it's a drone. This week top drone-makers, along with investors, regulators and inventors, are gathering in one of the most popular regions for outdoor activity in the U.S., California's Central Coast, to show off their devices, hear about new uses for airborne robots, and hit the waves and trails. Drones Data X Conference Santa Cruz, from May 1 to 3, will also feature experts explaining how unmanned-aerial vehicles can map remote areas or rescue hikers or swimmers. Federal regulators, who are still sorting out drone rules, will be on hand with updates on regulations about whether operators need to keep a drone within their line of sight, how high they can go and whether they can fly directly above a person. "Drones are in a bit of their Wild West period right now, but in the future they'll be used to transport people, medicine, goods; anything done on a highway will just as well be done by air," conference organizer Philip McNamara said.Spending on unmanned aerial vehicles is projected to double over the next decade, from about $6.4 billion a year to $11.5 billion a year, according to industry analyst Teal Group. McNamara said about 90 percent of the venture capital flowing toward drone technologies comes from the nation's high tech hub, Silicon Valley, about 30 miles from the conference. Santa Cruz economic development director Bonnie Lipscomb said the city hopes some firms will like what they see, from sandy beaches to redwood forests, as well as a university and tech startups. "It was a great opportunity to showcase not only our burgeoning tech scene but also our outdoor enthusiast paradise," she said. Local mountain bike and kite surfing companies are loaning gear and expertise to the conference. Sergio Capozzi at the Society of Outdoor Recreation Professionals said there is both crossover and conflict between outdoor recreationalists and drone enthusiasts. "There is likely an appropriate time and place for drones in nature. The challenge comes in finding the right balance of when and where drones are appropriate," he said. As prices go down and drone technology advances, park and wilderness visitors who want to use drones also need to make sure that everyone is having a safe and enjoyable experience, he said. He noted that, on the plus side, drones can be used to gather photos and videos that wouldn't be accessible otherwise. "Sharing these experiences encourages others to seek out similar experiences, in particular on public landscapes," he said. But Richard Dolesh, a vice president at the National Recreation and Park Association, said park managers aren't paying enough attention to increased drone use. "Drones are going to be everywhere and people who are managing outdoor land and outdoor recreation are pretty clueless right now about what it's going to take to effectively manage them," he said. Dolesh noted that national parks banned drones after visitors complained about their noise. "People travel long distances," he said, "for peace and solitude."

Latest State News

Written on 04/27/2015, 4:42 pm by BRANDON BAILEY, AP Technology Writer
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Written on 04/27/2015, 11:18 am by MARTHA MENDOZA, AP National Writer
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Latest National News

Written on 04/27/2015, 1:18 pm by chrisrose
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