Conflicting reports on object striking derailed train probed

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Amtrak Train May Have Been Hit by Projectile -NTSB

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- As repair crews work to restore rail service following the deadly Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia, investigators are trying to determine the reason for the train's acceleration and sorting through conflicting reports about an object striking its windshield.

National Transportation Safety Board member Robert Sumwalt said on CBS's "Face the Nation" program on Sunday that he wanted to "downplay" the idea that damage to the windshield might have come from someone firing a shot at the train shortly before it flew off the tracks, killing eight people and injuring more than 200 others.

"I've seen the fracture pattern; it looks like something about the size of a grapefruit, if you will, and it did not even penetrate the entire windshield," Sumwalt said.

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Conflicting reports on object striking derailed train probed
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 13: Police shut down a ramp that lead to a train track near the site of a train derailment accident May 13, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Service has been interrupted after Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia last night, killing at least seven people and injured more than 200. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 15: A construction worker begins to unload heavy machinery from a truck to repair damaged train tracks at the crash site of this week's Amtrak passenger train on May 15, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At least 8 people were killed and more than 200 others were injured in the train derailment carrying more than 200 passengers from Washington, DC to New York. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 15: NTSM spokesperson Robert Sumwalt is interviewed about the Amtrak crash near the wreckage of this week's Amtrak passenger train on May 15, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At least eight people were killed and more than 50 others were injured in the train crash carrying more than 200 passengers from Washington, DC to New York, which derailed on May 12, 2015 in north Philadelphia. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 14: NTSB spokesmen Robert Sumwalt walks over to speak to the media about the Amtrak train derailment, May 14, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Today rescue workers recovered another body from the wreckage after Tuesday night's Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia, the death toll now at eight with more than 200 injured. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 14: Joseph Boardman (L), President and CEO of Amtrak listens to Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter (L) speak about the Amtrak train derailment, May 14, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Today rescue workers recovered another body from the wreckage after Tuesday night's Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia, the death toll now at eight with more than 200 injured. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 14: Investigators and rescue personnel gather near the site of the Amtrak train derailment May 14, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Service has been interrupted after an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia on Tuesday night, killing at least seven people and injured more than 200. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 13: In this handout image supplied by NTSB, NTSB IIC Mike Flanigon (R) with Member Robert Sumwalt (L) and Vice Chairman Dinh-Zarr (Center-L) work on the scene of the Amtrak Train #188 derailment on May 13, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Service has been interrupted after Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia last night, killing at least seven people and injured more than 200. (Photo by NTSBgov via Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 13: Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter briefs members of the media near the site of a train derailment accident May 13, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Service has been interrupted after Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia last night, killing at least seven people and injured more than 200. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 13: In this handout image supplied by NTSB, NTSB member Robert Sumwalt works on the scene of the Amtrak Train #188 derailment on May 13, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Service has been interrupted after Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia last night, killing at least seven people and injured more than 200. (Photo by NTSBgov via Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 13: In this handout image supplied by NTSB, The NTSB Go Team arrives on the scene of the Amtrak Train #188 Derailment on May 13, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Service has been interrupted after Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia last night, killing at least seven people and injured more than 200. (Photo by NTSBgov via Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 13: In this handout image supplied by NTSB, NTSB Recorder Specialist Cassandra Johnson (2nd R) works with officials on the scene of the Amtrak Train #188 derailment on May 13, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Service has been interrupted after Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia last night, killing at least seven people and injured more than 200. (Photo by NTSBgov via Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 13: In this handout image supplied by NTSB, NTSB IIC Mike Flanigon (L) briefs Vice Chairman Dinh-Zarr on the scene of the Amtrak Train #188 derailmenton May 13, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Service has been interrupted after Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia last night, killing at least seven people and injured more than 200. (Photo by NTSBgov via Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 13: In this handout image supplied by NTSB, NTSB member Robert Sumwalt with Philadelphia officials The NTSB Go Team arrives on the scene of the Amtrak Train #188 derailment on May 13, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Service has been interrupted after Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia last night, killing at least seven people and injured more than 200. (Photo by NTSBgov via Getty Images)
As Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Derrick Sawyer, right, Amtrak CEO Joeseph Boardman, second right, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, second front left, listen as Mayor Michael Nutter, right at podium, announces that an eighth body has been found and all believed to be aboard a deadly train derailment have been accounted for , Thursday, May 14, 2015, in Philadelphia. An Amtrak train headed to New York City derailed and crashed in Philadelphia on Tuesday night killing eight people and and sending more than 200 passengers and crew to area hospitals. Investigators have said the Amtrak passenger train was going more than twice the allowed speed when it shot off a sharp curve. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Investigators, center back, stand on the tracks near Tuesday's deadly train derailment, Thursday, May 14, 2015, in Philadelphia. An Amtrak train headed to New York City derailed and crashed in Philadelphia on Tuesday night killing at least seven people and sending more than 200 passengers and crew to area hospitals. The engineer in this week's deadly train derailment doesn't remember the crash, his lawyer said Thursday, complicating the investigation into why the Amtrak passenger train was going more than twice the allowed speed when it shot off a sharp curve. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
A flat bed truck hauls a section of new railroad track to the site of Tuesday's deadly train derailment, Thursday, May 14, 2015, in Philadelphia. At least seven people are dead and more than 200 people aboard injured, when the New York City bound Amtrak train derailed. Federal investigators have determined that the train was barreling through the city at 106 mph before it ran off the rails along a sharp curve where the speed limit drops to just 50 mph. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
National Transportation Safety Board member Robert Sumwalt speaks during a news conference Thursday, May 14, 2015, in Philadelphia. Sumwalt said the Amtrak train that derailed Tuesday in Philadelphia sped up for a full minute before it derailed at a sharp curve, killing eight people and injuring more than 200. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Graphic shows an annotated aerial image of the site of the crash including derailment area and placement of train cars after the crash.; 4c x 3 inches; 195.7 mm x 76 mm;
National Transportation Safety Board member Robert Sumwalt speaks during a news conference Thursday, May 14, 2015, in Philadelphia. Sumwalt said the Amtrak train that derailed Tuesday in Philadelphia sped up for a full minute before it derailed at a sharp curve, killing eight people and injuring more than 200. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, center left, and Mayor Michael Nutter, center right, walk with others after visiting the investigation at the scene of Tuesday's deadly train derailment Thursday, May 14, 2015, in Philadelphia. Nutter announced that an eighth body has been found and all believed to be aboard a deadly train derailment have been accounted for. An Amtrak train headed to New York City derailed and crashed in Philadelphia on Tuesday night killing eight people and and sending more than 200 passengers and crew to area hospitals. Investigators have said the Amtrak passenger train was going more than twice the allowed speed when it shot off a sharp curve. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 13: Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter briefs members of the media near the site of a train derailment accident May 13, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Service has been interrupted after Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia last night, killing at least seven people and injured more than 200. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
As Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, center left, listens Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf addresses a gathering near the site of Tuesday's deadly train derailment Thursday, May 14, 2015, in Philadelphia. An Amtrak train headed to New York City derailed and crashed in Philadelphia on Tuesday night killing eight people and and sending more than 200 passengers and crew to area hospitals. Investigators have said the Amtrak passenger train was going more than twice the allowed speed when it shot off a sharp curve. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
As Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, left, listens Amtrak CEO, Joseph Boardman discusses Tuesday's deadly train derailment Thursday, May 14, 2015, in Philadelphia. An Amtrak train headed to New York City derailed and crashed in Philadelphia on Tuesday night killing eight people and and sending more than 200 passengers and crew to area hospitals. Investigators have said the Amtrak passenger train was going more than twice the allowed speed when it shot off a sharp curve. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Investigators, center back, stand on the tracks near Tuesday's deadly train derailment, Thursday, May 14, 2015, in Philadelphia. An Amtrak train headed to New York City derailed and crashed in Philadelphia on Tuesday night killing at least seven people and sending more than 200 passengers and crew to area hospitals. The engineer in the deadly train derailment doesn't remember the crash, his lawyer said Thursday, complicating the investigation into why the Amtrak passenger train was going more than twice the allowed speed when it shot off a sharp curve. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
A crane lifts a section of new railroad track from a flat bed track at the site of Tuesday's deadly train derailment, Thursday, May 14, 2015, in Philadelphia. At least seven people are dead and more than 200 people aboard injured, when the New York City bound Amtrak train derailed. Federal investigators have determined that the train was barreling through the city at 106 mph before it ran off the rails along a sharp curve where the speed limit drops to just 50 mph. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, center right, hugs Lori Dee Patterson, a nearby resident, after she handed him a cup of coffee after he spoke at a news conference near the scene of a deadly train derailment, Wednesday, May 13, 2015, in Philadelphia. An Amtrak train headed to New York City derailed and crashed in Philadelphia on Tuesday night, killing at least six people and injuring dozens more. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 14: NTSB spokesmen Robert Sumwalt briefs the media on the latest findings into Tueday's Amtrak train derailment, May 14, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Today another body was found raising the death toll to eight with more than 200 injured. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 14: Members of the National Transportation Safety Board gather near the site of the Amtrak train derailment May 14, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Service has been interrupted after an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia on Tuesday night, killing at least seven people and injured more than 200. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 14: Police gather near the site of the Amtrak train derailment May 14, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Service has been interrupted after an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia on Tuesday night killing at least seven people and injured more than 200. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 13: Repair crews inspect damages at the site of a train derailment accident May 13, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Service has been interrupted after an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia last night, killing at least seven people and injured more than 200. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 13: NTSB member Robert Sumwalt briefs members of the media near the site of a train derailment accident May 13, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Service has been interrupted after an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia last night, killing at least seven people and injured more than 200. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Maintance workers repair damaged lines after poles were knocked over when an Amtrak Northeast Regional Train derailed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on May 13, 2015. US investigators on Wednesday painstakingly combed through the twisted wreckage of an Amtrak train for clues as to why it derailed in Philadelphia, leaving at least six people dead and more than 200 injured. Officials warned the death toll could rise after the crash late Tuesday along the busy northeast US rail corridor linking Washington and New York, as some of the 243 passengers and crew believed to have been on the train had not yet been accounted for. AFP PHOTO/ ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS (Photo credit should read Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images)
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Officials said an assistant conductor on the derailed train said she heard the Amtrak engineer talking with a regional train engineer and both said their trains had been hit by objects. But Sumwalt said the regional train engineer recalls no such conversation, and investigators had listened to the dispatch tape and heard no communications from the Amtrak engineer to the dispatch center to say that something had struck the train.

"But, nevertheless, we do have this mark on the windshield of the Amtrak train, so we certainly want to trace that lead down," he told CNN's "State of the Union."

Investigators remain focused on the acceleration of the train as it approached the curve, finally reaching 106 mph as it entered the 50-mph stretch, and only managing to slow down slightly before the crash.

"The only way that an operable train can accelerate would be if the engineer pushed the throttle forward. And ... the event recorder does record throttle movement. We will be looking at that to see if that corresponds to the increase in the speed of the train," Sumwalt told CNN.

The Amtrak engineer, who was among those injured in the crash, has told authorities that he does not recall anything in the few minutes before it happened.

Meanwhile, almost 20 people injured in the train crash remain in Philadelphia hospitals, five in critical condition but all expected to survive.

Sumwalt said the agency had long called for inward-facing video cameras on trains which he said would help provide crucial information about such crashes. And he said the kind of next-generation speed control systems that Congress has ordered installed by the end of the year could have prevented countless accidents over the years. The systems use transponders, wireless radio and computers to prevent trains from going over the speed limit.

Amtrak has said it expected to restore limited service between Philadelphia and New York on Monday, with full service resuming on Tuesday. Amtrak officials did not immediately return messages from The Associated Press seeking an update Sunday.

The Federal Railroad Administration on Saturday ordered Amtrak to expand use of a speed-control system long in effect for southbound trains near the crash site to northbound trains in the same area. The agency also ordered the company to examine all curves along the Northeast Corridor, the busy stretch of tracks between Washington and Boston, and determine if more can be done to improve safety, and to increase speed limit signs along the route. Amtrak said it would immediately comply with all of the directives.

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