Home / Top Story / Mother of slain Amtrak engineer says he was shaken by past crash

Mother of slain Amtrak engineer says he was shaken by past crash

The engineer killed in Sunday’s Amtrak crash in South Carolina was shaken by a previous accident and sought help, his relatives claim.

Michael Kempf was driving a train that hit a car at a grade crossing about a year ago during his typical route in the Carolinas, his mother, Catherine Kempf, told The Associated Press.

The veteran engineer was bothered by the event, which she couldn’t recall much about, because “he had people’s lives in his hands,” recalled his mother, who lived with Kempf in Savannah, Ga. He met with a counselor to discuss the ordeal.

Kempf, 54, and conductor Michael Cella, 36, were killed early Sunday when their Miami-bound Amtrak train collided with an idle CSX train. More than 100 of the 147 aboard were injured.

Positive Train Control could’ve prevented Amtrak crash: official

Kempf’s younger brother, Rich, told the Daily News this week that he’d complained of stress from past accidents, but alleged Amtrak disregarded his pleas.

Kempf (left) complained about safety before the crash that killed him and Cella (right).

Kempf (left) complained about safety before the crash that killed him and Cella (right).

(Courtesy Donna Kempf/Facebook)

“He was voicing concerns about getting killed,” Rich Kempf, who lives in Mesa, Ariz., told the News on Sunday. “They’d push him right back on a train again.”

Amtrak previously declined to confirm whether Kempf had recently been in other accidents, or received counseling for the incidents.

Cella, a married father of two, lived with his family in Florida.

2 dead, 116 hurt in horrific Amtrak crash in South Carolina

“There’s just … it’s too much right now,” his wife, Christine, told the AP.

NTSB officials previously said a switch diverted the train to a side track.

NTSB officials previously said a switch diverted the train to a side track.

(Randall Hill/REUTERS)

Train 91, which left out of New York, was diverted to a side track just south of Columbia, S.C., early Sunday when it crashed into the freight train.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators said Monday night that CSX, which controls the tracks, had its signal system down to install Positive Train Control (PTC) technology.

Those signals would have alerted the train to halt before getting to the switch, which was padlocked to move to the side track, NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said Monday night.

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