A train derailment in Washington State killed at least three people while injuring dozens more on its inaugural run of a new route on Monday morning. Part of the train bounced off a highway overpass onto the busy roadway below, said a local official.
Late Monday, a board member of the National Transportation Safety Board said the train was traveling at 80 mph on a curve that had a speed limit of just 30 mph. The NTSB board member added that they had not yet interviewed the engineer and crew and were not aware if they knew the speed limit on the curve.
No one on Interstate 5 was killed when the train cars fell off the overpass. However, several motorists were injured when the vehicles they were driving were hit by the train cars.
The train cars could be seen scattered in the nearby woods and dangling from the overpass. All but one of the 14 cars in the train jumped off the tracks said a spokesperson for the Washington State Police. Five cars and a pair of semi-trucks were hit during the crash.
At the time of the accident, the train held 80 passengers, five crew and one technician.
Following the derailment, which took place at 7:37 a.m. local time, many motorists jumped out of their vehicles to help the injured. One witness said a motorist left his car and was trying to comfort train passengers pinned under the train.
Ninety people were treated at local hospitals, including 10 for serious injuries.
This was the first time the track carried Amtrak customers on the company’s new route, but has carried freight cars prior to being upgraded recently to carry passengers.
The Department of Transportation for Washington State said that the derailment blocked all of the Interstate 5 southbound lanes close to Mounts Road located in Pierce County. Officials added that I-5 would be closed Tuesday so officials could continue with their investigation at the accident scene.
The Governor of Washington Jay Inslee said that he had declared a state of emergency for both Thurston and Pierce counties.
Inslee called the Monday derailment both a serious and ongoing emergency. He added that his wife Trudi and he were holding everyone on the train in their hearts and praying for those injured.
Jenny Durkan the Mayor of Seattle through a prepared statement called the derailment horrific and said her thoughts were with the passengers, families of the deceased and injured, firefighters, first responders and police who arrived at the scene.