Amtrak train derailed in Washington State: Multiple deaths and over 100 injured

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Yesterday, an Amtrak train came around a curve traveling over 80 miles per hour, in a usually 30 miles per hour zone. The train was derailed and hurled passengers into oncoming cars off an overpass and onto the freeway. At the time, there was rush hour traffic, and the derailment is so far the cause of 3 deaths and causing serious injuries to over 100 others. During the trains travel, it was the carrying 86 people on its first journey on a brand new service routes from Seattle to Portland at the time of derailment. According to Transportation Safety Board member T. Bella Dinh-Zarr, authorities are still unaware of why the train was traveling at such high speeds while in a lower speed zone. However, the brand new track had gone through rigorous testing and a multi-million dollar improvement construction.

Despite this, Positive Train Control, an automatic feature that should be activated in the event that a train is speeding beyond its limits at any point on the track, was not in use at the time of the derailment. The Positive Train Control was planned to be operational by this time, but due to delays, the technology was then slated to be operational by spring of 2018. Engineers were able to gather information on data pertaining to how fast the train was traveling by examining the back locomotive in the wreckage. Data on the front locomotive of the train will be harder to gather as the wreckage has made it extremely difficult to access.

The train had departed at 6 a.m. yesterday morning and only was able to make 2 stops before becoming derailed around 7:40 p.m. in DuPont. The train ran off the track while crossing the highway overpass, and the locomotives fell over both sides of the pass. Some fell on cars driving below, while another railcar dangled over the highway, hanging dangerously over vehicles traveling on the highway. Several motorists were hit by these collisions, being struck by the fallen rail cars. However, no one on the road was killed.

The cause of this horrific accident is still yet to be determined, by experts are saying it was a mixture of human error, irregularities on the track, and operations of the mechanic of the train. A investigation will now begin to confirm whether they were indeed the cause.

Passenger Chris Karnes told MSNBC that as they went around the curve of the overpass, “…the train started to wobble a bit. We felt a little jolt, then all of a sudden we were thrown into the seats in front of us. Next thing that we knew we were down in a ditch.” He went on to add that, “The train had crumpled”. While he told reporters this, a rescue operation was underway, still trying to rescue those who were trapped in the wreckage and rubble of the derailment.

This crash in Washington State is the first railway accident with multiple fatalities since May 2015, when an Amtrak train in Philadelphia crashed, causing the deaths of 8 people and injuring hundreds.

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