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16 people are hospitalized after an Amtrak train crashes into a water truck

An Amtrak train struck a public works vehicle in Moorpark, Calif., on Wednesday, sending 16 people to the hospital.
Ventura County Fire Department
An Amtrak train struck a public works vehicle in Moorpark, Calif., on Wednesday, sending 16 people to the hospital.

Sixteen people were hospitalized Wednesday after an Amtrak train struck a public works truck and slid off the tracks in the city of Moorpark, Calif.

The 10-car Amtrak Coast Starlight passenger train was traveling northbound, from Los Angeles towards Seattle, when it struck the truck around 11:15 a.m. PT, officials said.

The train was carrying a total of 186 passengers and 13 crew members, none whom required extrication to exit the train, according to the Ventura County Fire Department's Public Information Officer. Amtrak put the passenger count higher, at 198. The truck's driver, a public works employee, was taken to a trauma center.

Statements from several local agencies characterized the passenger injuries as mostly minor, though some told reporters it was a scary and painful incident.

"I thought we were goners," passenger Theresa Darragh told the Ventura County Star.

Kimberly Mathews, who was traveling in the same car as Darragh, described to the outlet how she'd been left with shoulder and back pain after hitting the stairs during the crash.

"It feels like somebody took a sledgehammer and just whacked me 50 times," she said.

The crash's impact caused three of the train's seven passenger cars to derail, but they stayed upright. Smoke poured out from the train's luggage car, but the fire was extinguished quickly, the fire department said.

Amtrak did not immediately return NPR's request for more information.

The impacted vehicle, a Ventura County Public Works tanker truck, was atop a level-grade crossing as its employees were cleaning out a channel nearby, the The Star reported.

Ventura County Sherriff's Capt. Dean Worthy described the site to the outlet as "a remote farm road." The crossing has a stop sign, but no electronic crossing arms, photos show.

Traffic on Highway 118, which runs parallel to the tracks, slowed to a crawl on Wednesday as drivers stopped to take in the scene of passengers, emergency responders and passengers, local news reports showed.

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Emily Olson
Emily Olson is on a three-month assignment as a news writer and live blog editor, helping shape NPR's digital breaking news strategy.
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