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Two Amtrak maintenance workers had opioids or cocaine in their systems when they were struck and killed south of Philadelphia last year by a passenger train whose engineer had marijuana in his system, according to federal officials.
The revelation and the nationwide opioid epidemic led a group of House Democrats on Tuesday to ask Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to require transportation industry workers — truck drivers, bus drivers and railroad operators — to be tested for four prescription opioids.
Transportation workers are governed by testing protocols established in 1989 to check for substances such as marijuana, cocaine and phencyclidine, commonly known as PCP.
“Yet we are in the midst of a prescription opioid crisis in America,” said a letter signed by seven Democratic members of the House Transportation Committee: Reps. Peter A. DeFazio (Ore.), Rick Larsen (Wash.), Michael E. Capuano (Mass.), Grace F. Napolitano (Calif.), John Garamendi (Calif.), Hank Johnson (Ga.) and D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton.
On April 3 last year, a southbound Amtrak train carrying 330 passengers and seven crew members, under the control of Alexander Hunter, crashed into a backhoe in Chester, Pa.
The train, traveling at 106 mph, killed two track workers, Joseph Carter Jr., 61, and Peter John Adamovich, 59.
The engine derailed but remained upright.
Hunter and 40 people on board were taken to hospitals with minor injuries.
This article first appeared on www.washingtonpost.com
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