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Truck Driver in Maine Train Crash Was Talking on Phone and Speeding

The driver of the tractor-trailer that caused a fiery crash with an Amtrak passenger train this past summer in Maine was talking on a cell phone and speeding, according to the Bangor Daily News. The driver was on the phone with his employer for five minutes up to the collision and was exceeding the speed limit by 20 mph, according to further investigation recently released by the North Berwick Police Department. The driver's employer denies that the telephone conversation was ongoing at the time of the accident. The cell phone records indicate that the call ended at 11:05 a.m., the same time that police first received 911 calls reporting the collision. At present, investigators are not certain if the call had ended before the accident.

Crash Witness Says Truck Driver Was Weaving and Appeared Distracted

The police report also includes information provided by a driver who was following the tractor-trailer. "It appeared to me that the truck driver was distracted or tired," said the witness. "He crossed the centerline at least twice and steered into the breakdown lane at least twice, also." Data from the tractor also showed that the unit was traveling at a speed of 55 mph and did not slow down as the road's speed limit dropped to 40 mph and then 30 mph. The tractor-trailer ultimately skidded more than 200 feet through closed and flashing crossing gates and struck the locomotive of the Amtrak passenger train Downeaster, which was carrying 112 passengers and traveling at 70 mph at the time of the accident. Reports indicate the train locomotive was sounding its horn prior to and at the time of the crash. The impact resulted in a fireball three stories high. The truck driver was killed, and his body was blown 350 feet away from the collision location. Six passengers and Amtrak crew sustained non-life-threatening injuries.

Driver Didn't See Crossing Until Too Late

According to a representative of the North Berwick Police Department, the cellphone usage played a big part in the accident. The driver was obviously distracted, possibly by his cellphone, because he "didn't see the crossing until it was too late," according to North Berwick Police Chief Stephen Peasley.