Inspiration behind 'Unstoppable' weighs in on crash
By: Donna Kirker-Morgan
MARYSVILLE, Pa. — A local man says there were immediate signs at the crash scene in Philadelphia that indicated speed may have been a factor in the train wreck that killed seven and injured over 200 passengers.
Jon Hosfeld can often be found at the Marysville V.F.W., but for 37 years his life centered around the railroad. One of those days was actually immortalized in the movie “Unstoppable”.
Tuesday’s Amtrak accident, however, stopped Jon in his tracks.
He told us that he stayed up all night Tuesday watching the live coverage of the train accident. With a trained eye he saw how far that train had gone off the tracks and he feared the worst.
Hosfeld has inspected other derailments and says trains don’t usually travel too far once they derail and hit the ground.
“As far as they were away for the mainline, there had to be a speed factor, Hosfeld said. “All my experience on railroad – 37 years of experience – never seen it back that distance from the mainline,” he said.
He says even at 100 miles an hour, that train would have glided quietly on the rails. No shaking. No rattling. He believes the engineer must have been active at the helm, otherwise, an emergency alert would have activated.
“An alerter, if you’re not doing things the train will physically stop,” he explained.
Now a National Transportation Safety Board Inspector says that the brakes were applied at the train neared that curve. It was moving, they say, at 107 m.p.h. That curve has a speed limit of 50 m.p.h.
“One of the things as a locomotive engineer is that you have to stay focused all the time, self-discipline because you’re in the engine by yourself on Amtrak,” he said.
Now the retired railroad man fears this will hurt the industry that he says has an extremely good safety record.
“Almost to the point of emotions, because one fact safety, safety, safety. Lack of judgment error: if they prove that it’s very sad,” Hosfeld said.