FBI Investigating Whether Amtrak Train Hit by Projectile

The NTSB made the announcement on Friday,

AP | Patrick Semansky

AP | Patrick Semansky

On Wednesday afternoon, the day after the devastating Amtrak crash that killed eight and injured scores, we reported that an Amtrak and SEPTA train may have been struck by projectiles in the vicinity of and within fifteen minutes of the derailment. Now, federal authorities have indicated that they are investigating whether the doomed Amtrak train was also hit by an object prior to the derailment.

At a press conference on Friday, National Transportation Safety Board official Robert Sumwalt explained that there was damage to part of the Amtrak windshield and that authorities were investigating it. Sumwalt said at the press conference that investigators had “seen damage to the left hand lower portion of the Amtrak windshield.”

The NTSB says that the FBI has been called in to look into the damaged window, adding that an assistant conductor on the derailed Amtrak train heard the engineer talking to a SEPTA engineer who said he had been “hit by a rock or shot at” and that she believed that the Amtrak engineer also said that their train had been struck.

The SEPTA train in question was traveling from Trenton to Philadelphia when it was struck with what SEPTA described as an “unknown projectile” close to where the Amtrak train derailed. That incident is estimated to have occurred around 9:10 p.m., less than 20 minutes before the Amtrak crash. The SEPTA train was disabled and buses were brought in to transport the passengers.

And a passenger on an Acela train traveling from New York to Philadelphia also reported damage to his passenger window, also around 9:10 p.m. and near the crash site.

“It was a pretty big impact,” the passenger on the Acela train told us on Wednesday. “When we arrived at 30th Street, Amtrak cops boarded and took photos of the window.”

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said on Wednesday that the SEPTA incident had “nothing to do with this particular incident,” referring to the Amtrak derailment. Amtrak has not responded to calls about the broken window on the Acela train.