Amtrak train derails, killing three

An Amtrak train derailed early Monday morning and crashed onto Interstate 5 near Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Pierce County Sheriff’s Office
An Amtrak train derailed early Monday morning and crashed onto Interstate 5 near Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

— Three people were killed and dozens injured Monday morning when an Amtrak derailed over Interstate 5 sending rail cars onto the roadway just south of Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

At least 72 passengers, motorists, crew and others were transported to area hospitals.

The names of the victims were not released.

Eighty passengers and five crewmen were aboard the train on its maiden run.

State law enforcement and transportation officials expect to reopen the southbound Interstate lanes today.

Train service will remain shuttered until further notice.

The state Department of Transportation released a statement regarding the incident yesterday.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of this event and their families,” the press release said. “After emergency response is complete, and the National Transportation Safety Board has released the scene, the train will be removed from the interstate right-of-way. We anticipate this will be a lengthy process due to the severity of the incident and the size and weight of the train cars”

In the meantime, motorists are being detoured around the area.

Gov. Jay Inslee weighed in on the derailment, too.

“Today’s tragic incident in Pierce County is a serious and ongoing emergency,” Inslee said. “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.”

Inslee advised everyone to avoid Interstate 5 in the area of the derailment for the time being.

“WSDOT will have further updates on Twitter, those in the area can mark themselves safe with Facebook Safety Check, and I will be monitoring the situation with our team, he said.”

Officials have yet to determine the cause of the derailment.

Transportation officials said the tracks are owned by Sound Transit.

Previously, they were owned by Burlington-Northern Santa Fe and used for freight and military transport.

When Sound Transit purchased the tracks, the agency also received grants to improve the tracks for passenger rail service.

Prior to yesterday’s derailment, passenger trains had not traversed the tracks since the agency’s improvement project.


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