Multiple fatalities have been reported in an Amtrak train derailment in Washington state. CNN reports that 77 passengers have already been taken to area hospitals for treatment. The number of deaths has not been announced as of the writing of this article.
Today was the first day of operation for the Amtrak Cascades Train 501. The ill-fated 501 was scheduled to leave Seattle at 6 AM and to arrive in Portland, Oregon around 9:20 AM. Emergency responders were summoned to the scene of the crash around 7:30 AM local time. The company’s website notes that the train was carrying 78 passengers and 5 crew members when it derailed.
The deadly incident occurred about 20 miles outside of Tacoma, Washington. Several train cars fell onto a major highway causing traffic to come to a halt and crushing vehicles traveling the roadway. A spokesman for the sheriff’s office in Pierce County, Washington told reports “[w]hen we got to the scene it was obvious that there were some fatalities and there were a lot of injuries.” News reports note that fatalities were limited to train passengers.
The National Transportation Safety Board is set to investigate. One passenger, Chris Karnes, said he believed the train was traveling around 70 mph at the time. Mr. Karnes went on to say “[a]t a certain point the train started to wobble a little bit and the next thing that we knew we were down in a ditch. The train had crumpled.”
Today’s crash was the first fatal railway accident since May 12, 2015 when an Amtrak train derailed outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Eight people died in that accident and more than 200 were injured.
Individuals looking for family or friends believed to be on the train are asked to call (800) 523-9101. We at Lopez McHugh extend our condolences to the countless people affected by the crash, and are keeping those who lost loved ones in our thoughts.