Amtrak Derailment: Train Crashes Near Tacoma, Washington, Fatalities Reported
Several people were killed and dozens were injured Monday after an Amtrak train derailed while traveling on the first day of a new route outside Tacoma, Washington, careening off a bridge and onto a highway below.
"The casualties include multiple injuries and fatalities," Detective Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, said of the 7:40 a.m. crash.
No motorists were killed, officials said.
The National Transportation Safety Board said it was launching a team to determine what happened.
There were 78 passengers and five crew members on board, Amtrak said.
Passenger Chris Karnes told MSNBC that the train derailed while traveling on tracks that are part of a new route in and out of Tacoma. The southbound train had just passed the city of Dupont and was traveling about 70 mph, he said.
"At a certain point the train started to wobble a little bit and the next thing that we knew we were down in a ditch," Karnes, member of a local transportation advisory group, said. "The train had crumpled."
He spoke as a rescue operation was still underway, describing inured people being lifted out of the wreckage.
"When we got to the scene it was obvious that there were some fatalities and there were a lot of injuries and some people were able to get off the train," Troyer told reporters. "Multiple cars and trucks were struck by train cars that left the train tracks and went down onto the road. The people that were in all the vehicles, even though when you see the pictures, it’s pretty horrific, at this point nobody in any of the vehicles is a fatal. The fatals are all contained to the train."
Witness Kolter Raudebauga told local NBC affiliate KING that the train seemed to have "nosedived," leaving it "dangling off the ramp there, off the track."
Another witness, Dan Konzelman, told MSNBC he climbed onto the tracks after the crash and joined others helping victims while waiting for emergency crews to arrive.
"Some of them couldn’t move they had neck or back injuries, so we assigned people to stay there with them and keep them calm," Konzelman said. "And then we worked our way down to more serious injuries where people were pinned underneath the trains that had flipped upside down, and unfortunately there were some deceased."
Washington State Department of Transportation tweeted a picture of the derailment at 7:45 a.m. PST, showing what appeared to be a car on its side over a highway lane.