FBI to probe whether crashed Amtrak train was hit or shot at

FBI to probe whether crashed Amtrak train was hit or shot at

The FBI has been asked to investigate the possibility that the Amtrak train that crashed outside of Philadelphia was hit by a bullet or some other object.

According to the The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), an assistant conductor in the train’s café car claimed to have overheard a regional train engineer saying he had been “hit by a rock or shot at.”

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“She also believed that she heard her engineer say something about his train being struck by something,” NTSB member Robert Sumwalt said during a press conference on Friday.

Inspectors reviewing the scene of the crash have “seen damage to the left hand lower portion of the Amtrak windshield,” he added, prompting the FBI’s involvement.

“We often times rely on the FBI for their technical expertise in such areas, and they will be there tonight looking at this particular damage to the Amtrak locomotive windshield.”

On CNN’s “The Situation Room,” former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood — a current Amtrak advisor — said that being struck “would obviously be a huge distraction to the conductor and the engineer and the folks that were providing the leadership and conducting the trains.”

Madison Calvert, who claimed to have been riding an Amtrak train going in the other direction around the same time, claimed that his train was also hit with a projectile.

"If it's true, it would be a tremendous distraction for them," Lahood said.

According to BuzzFeed News, people around the neighborhood where the train crashed routinely throw rocks and other objects at passing trains.

The Washington-to-New York train was believed to be traveling at more than twice the 50 miles per hour heading into a steep curve when it crashed on Tuesday night, killing eight people and injuring more than 100 others.

Sumwalt, the NTSB member, declined to speculate what may have caused the crash during his Friday press conference.

"We will draw conclusions at the completion of the investigation, which will be after a very thorough and comprehensive investigation," he said.

Shortly after passing through the Philadelphia station, the train quickly sped up from 70 miles per hour to more than 100 miles per hour in less than a minute, the NTSB said. The engineer slammed on the emergency breaks in the final moments before the train derailed, but it skidded off the tracks at 102 miles per hour, according to its black box” data recorder.

On Friday, Sumwalt said that the 32-year-old engineer — who was "extremely cooperative" — recalled ringing his bell while passing through North Philadelphia, but had no memories after that.

— Rebecca Shabad contributed.