An Amtrak train jumped the tracks in DuPont, WA on Monday, injuring approximately 100 people and killing at least three people according to officials. The train was the first to travel a new route between Seattle and Portland. According to court records, Washington state had expressed concern about this route since 2013.
Amtrak Train No. 501 derailed on an overpass, causing the train cars to slam down into the southbound lanes on Interstate 5, the Northwest’s busiest travel corridor. All 12 of the train’s coaches derailed, as well as two of its engines, with two cars on the highway itself and two more dangling off the edge of the bridge.
"Multiple cars and trucks were struck by train cars that left the train tracks and went down onto the road," a spokesman for the sheriff's office said. "The people that were in all the vehicles — even though when you see the pictures, it's pretty horrific."
According to a local network of medical centers, MultiCare Health System, 22 people were taken to three different hospitals in the area, with several in critical condition. Other medical centers are also reporting hospitalizations caused by the crash.
Don Anderson, the mayor of a town near the crash site, believes that the tragedy could have been avoided. Anderson told the Seattle Times, “the principle risk we identified was the number of crossings and the lack of familiarity people had in the area with trains.”
"I felt a lurch, and I had the thought: 'We're going off the tracks!'” passenger Patricia Freeman told All Things Considered. "I tried to grab the table — I was sitting in the bistro car — and then I felt another lurch. There was a huge impact on the side of the train, and I just went flying to the other end of the car. I was pinballing around on the floor of the car trying to catch a table leg or something. … The motion stopped, and I was able to get out. I couldn't see anything. It was pitch black, and there was dust falling. And people were screaming."
According to officials, the train was travelling at 80 mph when it derailed, 50 mph above the posted speed limit of 30 mph. It’s still unclear if other factors led to the crash, but this is also the very first time the train used this more inland route since it was opened. This new route, which was intended to be faster and more direct, cost an estimated $181 million to build.