Amtrak train collision has Arizona connection

Posted: Updated:
Michael Kempf (Source: Michael Kempf's family) Michael Kempf (Source: Michael Kempf's family)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Michael's brother Rich Kempf. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Michael's brother Rich Kempf. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

It was discovered Sunday evening that there is an Arizona connection to the fatal Amtrak collision, which took place at around 2:35 a.m. in South Carolina.

One of the victims' families lives in Mesa and tells us they were stunned by the news. They're angry, and in their words they say, "enough is enough."

This early morning's crash is the latest fatal incident for Amtrak in the past few weeks. One of the victims of today's collision is 54-year-old engineer Michael Kempf of Savannah Georgia. 

[RELATED: Amtrak crash in South Carolina leaves 2 dead, over 100 hurt]

"If he can help you he would. He was a really good guy," says Michael's brother Rich Kempf.

In an exclusive interview, Rich tells us he was close to his brother and spoke to him almost daily. He says Michael is an experienced train engineer with some 20 years under his belt, and that he'd often talk about safety concerns at Amtrak, and having to endure long hours. 

'It's just so weird," says Rich. "That after all the times of discussing all this crap happening, it finally happened."

He says Michael was suffering from PTSD after being involved in several fatal accidents with Amtrak, and that the hours and trauma of those incidents were taking a toll, as was the pressure to get back on the track quickly. 

"They need to do something about it," says Rich. "I mean you're trying to save, cut jobs because you trying to save money. Why you trying to save money so you can put more money in your own wallets? How much money do you have to have to say enough is enough?"

Rich says Amtrak required his brother to do solo runs for six hours, a job he says is intended for two engineers, not a job for one. 

"With Amtrak doing all their cuts and everything they're hurting for engineers," explains Rich.

He also said at times Michael would be awake for 24 hours straight, overworked and stressed out. 

"I told him like I did every time, 'keep your eyes open watch out for people blowing the crossing because that's usually when the accidents happen, people trying to race the train.'" 

Rich says he did receive a call from Amtrak this morning confirming that his brother was not at fault. But he says it's not comforting news as he and his family and especially his mom, are reeling over this tremendous loss.

"She's pretty bent up about it. Parents aren't supposed to bury their kids," he says.

Rich says he feels sorry for all the victims in this crash, for the other conductor who lost his life.

Through the tears, Rich has one final message for his older brother.

"I love you." 

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