I was saddened to read about a deadly Washington Amtrak crash today in which a train derailed over an interstate with at least two cars falling onto the highway.
Police reported multiple fatalities in the crash in Washington State as well as many injuries. Our thoughts are with the families who lost loved one and the injured. Initial reports suggested at least three people died in the crash and 77 were transported to local hospitals.
The crash occurred in Pierce County. Images from the crash site showed emergency services treating people on the ground. A report on BBC noted at least four carriages left the track. One is upside down on the highway.
Several cars on the highway were struck by the derailed carriages, the Pierce County Sheriff’s department says. The crash blocked all southbound traffic on Interstate 5.
A CBS news affiliate reported first responders are treating the deadly Washington Amtrak crash as a derailment and a mass casualty incident. Authorities had not yet provided details on injuries as of noon on Monday.
In a statement, an Amtrak spokesman said:
“Emergency crews are on the scene and the Amtrak Management is responding. Some injuries are reported. Service between Seattle and Portland is suspended for the time being.”
Amtrak Service 501 left Tacoma shortly before 8 a.m. local time. The train can carry up to 250 people, but Amtrak said there were about 78 passengers and five crew members on board at the time.
The Cascades service from Seattle to Portland is meant to be rated for a maximum speed of 79 mph at the section where it derailed in DuPont, according to passenger Chris Karnes. It’s not clear how fast it was traveling.
Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan released a statement soon after today’s crash, calling it “horrific.” He said:
“This catastrophic derailment is horrific. My thoughts are with the passengers, families and those injured as well as our first responders, firefighters and police who rushed to the scene. The City of Seattle has offered our assistance and aid to Pierce and Thurston counties, and is ready to work with Amtrak, local, state, and federal officials as they manage the response and deal with the aftermath of this tragic incident.”
This is not to first Amtrak crash to result in mass casualties in recent years. Amtrak’s safety record was questioned after a spate of derailments. New questions will be asked after the deadly Washington Amtrak crash.
Eight people were killed and more than 200 were injured, 11 of them critically when an Amtrak train derailed on a curve in Philadelphia in May 2015.
The engineer was charged with involuntary manslaughter this year. The New York Times reported the Amtrak service was traveling at 106 miles-per-hour when it entered a curve with a 50 mph limit.
A subsequent investigation found no evidence that alcohol or drugs were involved. The engineer later told investigators that he recalled very little about the crash itself.
At Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers, we have represented people injured in railroad crashes across the country as well as workers hurt on the railroad. Please call us at (757) 455-0077.