NHP identifies truck driver, 2 train passengers in fatal Amtrak crash | TahoeDailyTribune.com

NHP identifies truck driver, 2 train passengers in fatal Amtrak crash

Tribune News Service

FALLON, Nev. – The Nevada Highway Patrol on Monday identified 43-year-old Lawrence R. Valli of Winnemucca as the truck driver who was killed Friday when his 2008 Peterbilt tractor slammed into an Amtrak passenger train on Friday morning at a railroad crossing 35 miles north of Fallon on U.S. Highway 95 and three miles south of Interstate 80.

“Two of the fatality victims riding on the train have been positively identified by the Washoe County Medical Examiner Coroner’s Office as 58-year-old Francis Knox and her 18-year-old daughter, Karly Knox, of Seward, Neb.,” said NHP Spokesman Chuck Allen in a statement, adding there are still 5 passengers unaccounted for this morning.

Chuck added the semi-tractor was pulling two 2007 SmithCo dump trailers behind it.

Amtrak’s California Zephyr was en route from Chicago to Emeryville, Calif., with about 204 passengers and 14 crew members when the accident happened at about 11:30 a.m. Friday. Authorities said at least six people were killed at the scene. Officials confirmed two deaths on Friday and four more Saturday afternoon.

Amtrak reported that conductor Laurette Lee, 68, of South Lake Tahoe, Calif., was among those killed. She was a 23-year employee who first began her career in the Concord, Calif., area.

Washoe County medical examiner is still conducting toxicology and other tests on the truck driver. Names of remaining passengers will be released pending identification and notification of next of kin.

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Renown Medical Center in Reno said Monday one patient has been downgraded from critical to serious condition. Another was downgraded to fair condition, while a third patient is in good condition. Six have been discharged.

Three trucks owned by John Davies Trucking of Battle Mountain were heading north on U.S. Highway 95. Earl Weener of the National Transportation Safety Board said the two drivers behind Valli’s truck saw the signal activate and slowed down, but they did not see the first truck stopping until it was too late.

The train’s speed was 78 mph, two miles short of the posted speed. Weener said skid marks from the truck began 320 feet before the crossing and continued to the collision site.

“The data indicates all aspects of the gates, lights and signals were operating properly,” he said.

Weener added visibility in both directions was good.

The train engineer also gave a similar report as did the two trailing drivers. He viewed the accident from the engine’s rear-view mirror and saw the collision. Weener said the engineer immediately activated the emergency brake. The train stopped almost a half mile from the railroad crossing.