Amtrak Train Derails in Washington, Plunges Onto Highway During Rush Hour
Police reported multiple fatalities from the scene of a devastating train derailment south of Tacoma, Washington on Monday morning.
Amtrak Cascades Train 501, with service from Seattle to Portland, derailed at about 7:40 a.m. on Monday morning. At least six passengers were killed when train cars plummeted off the tracks and onto the highway below, according to the Associated Press.
There were approximately 78 passengers and five crew members on board, according to a statement from Amtrak. At least 90 people have been transported to local hospitals.
The train was performing its inaugural run on newly-constructed tracks, part of a $180.7-million project meant to speed up passenger rail service. The track had previously transported freight trains, but Monday’s journey was the first with passengers onboard. Amtrak predicted the new route would allow for faster and more frequent trips between Seattle and Portland.
An official told AP that “preliminary signs indicate the Amtrak train may have struck something on the track before going off” and that the incident was unlikely a maintenance issue because the tracks were new.
“We felt this rocking and creaking noise, and then all of a sudden it felt like we were heading down a hill,” passenger Chris Karnes told CBS News, “and the next thing that we know, we're being slammed into the front of our seats, and the windows are breaking, and then we stop, and there's water that's gushing out of the top of the train and all the lights go out and people are screaming."
The train was going 81 miles per hour before it derailed, according to Transitdocs.com. At least seven of the train’s cars derailed from the tracks onto the highway below during morning traffic. There were no fatalities reported among motorists.
A few hours after the incident, President Trump tweeted that the accident “shows more than ever why our soon to be submitted infrastructure plan must be approved quickly. Seven trillion dollars spent in the Middle East while our roads, bridges, tunnels, railways (and more) crumble! Not for long!”
He also tweeted “thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved in the train accident in DuPont” and thanked first responders.
Amtrak has temporarily suspended train service south of Seattle and the National Transportation Safety Board has launched an investigation.
"Today's tragic incident in Pierce County is a serious and ongoing emergency," Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement. "Trudi and I are holding in our hearts everyone on board, and are praying for the many injured. They are our top priority, and I know first responders are doing everything to ensure everyone has the care they need."
Those with questions about passengers on the train can call 800-523-9101.