A newly opened high-speed Amtrak passenger train derailed in DuPont, Washington earlier today (Dec. 18).
77 passengers and 7 crew members were aboard Amtrak Cascades 501 as it jumped the tracks during its inaugural run from Seattle to Portland, reports CNN. While an official death toll has yet to be confirmed, CNN says the crash claimed the lives of at least 3 passengers and sent more than 100 others to local area hospitals with varying injuries.
Pierce County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Ed Troyer told CNN that the death toll may rise as some train cars were so damaged that they were not safe to search. “We know that there’s nobody alive in them at this point, but there are some other fatals that we are probably going to find. We just don’t know until they can shore up those train cars and get in there and search them.”
13 of the 14 cars on Cascades 501 dangled onto Interstate 5 after it jumped the tracks on an overpass slamming rail cars into the busy highway. According to the New York Times, five cars and two-semi-trucks were left crumpled on the highway along with “huge chunks of concrete that were ripped away from the damaged overpass.”
CNN claims Amtrak President and Co-CEO Richard Anderson said, “We are deeply saddened by all that has happened. We will do everything in our power to support our passengers and crew and their families,” during a conference call with reporters.
While an investigation into what led to the devastating crash is still ongoing, Anderson revealed that Positive Train Control, a technology that automatically slows downs, and eventually stops a train if it senses the train is going too fast and could derail, was not activated at the time of the derailment.
Anderson also revealed that details surrounding the Cascades 501’s speed and the tenure of its crew would be released at a later date.
(Photo: KATHRYN ELSESSER/AFP/Getty Images)