Press release by Berrien County Public Safety Communication Center:

The Berrien County Public Safety Communication Center/911 Dispatch is providing the following update on the Thursday, Nov. 16 derailment of a passenger train in New Buffalo Township.

While the incident remains under investigation, it appears a technology failure and misidentification of a crossing contributed to the accident that led to the derailment of a westbound Amtrak train at approximately 10 p.m. Of the approximate 200 passengers on the train, six individuals were transported to the hospital for non-life threatening injuries by ambulance services who responded to the incident.

The technology issue has been resolved, and Berrien County is reviewing its 911 emergency dispatch protocols to mitigate any future occurrence.

“Our preliminary review of this incident shows we were experiencing technical issues with our computer aided dispatch system on the evening of Nov. 16 that left us unable to enter intersection cross streets, which are critical to our ability to pinpoint locations.”

“At approximately 9:21 p.m., we received two 911 calls alerting us to a stranded vehicle on train tracks in New Buffalo Township. We identified the location using a nearby business, as we were unable to enter an intersection using cross streets because of the software issue. We cross-referenced that location with our list of railroad crossings, which resulted in the identification of an incorrect train crossing. We then immediately notified CSX, the primary operating railroad of the tracks at that crossing location.

“We appreciate the swift response from 20 agencies and organizations to Thursday’s derailment,” said Caitlin Sampsell, Berrien County 911 director. “We remain incredibly grateful for the support of all those who helped ensure the safe evacuation of the passengers onboard and their reunification with loved ones.”

The initial steps taken to modify dispatch protocols include changes to:
Protocols related to computer and software updates.
Communication protocols with railroads.
The railroad crossing resource guide, ensuring it is in a more user-friendly format for dispatchers.

The incident remains under investigation and no further information is available at this time.