LOCAL NEWS

State Patrol confirms 3 people killed in train derailment

Dec 18, 2017, 7:51 AM | Updated: 9:13 pm
train derailment...
(Trooper Brooke Bova)
(Trooper Brooke Bova)

The State Patrol confirms three people were killed Monday morning when an Amtrak train derailed over southbound I-5 at Mounts Road in DuPont, train cars laying across southbound I-5 and blocking all traffic, according to officials. WSP reports 100 more people were taken to hospitals.

Listen: Latest news conference from State Patrol

The Associated Press earlier reported six people were killed.

>> Check the traffic map
>> Photos from the scene
>> Plan your I-5 detour through Tacoma-Olympia
>> Passenger describes train ride before deadly derailment

Troopers say the closure on I-5 will last until at least Tuesday morning.

The crash occurred around 7:40 a.m. on I-5 at mile post 117. One train car came to rest, upside-down, across southbound I-5 at Mounts Road. Washington State Patrol says 13 cars jumped the track. The entire train consisted of 12 cars and two engines. Two semi-trucks and five vehicles were involved in the crash on I-5.

According to Amtrak, there were “approximately” 77 passengers and seven crew members on board. Pierce County Sheriff’s Detective Ed Troyer says there were no fatalities among the vehicles involved in the crash.

The State Patrol says 19 people were transported, uninjured, to be reunited with their families in DuPont. Seventy-two people were evaluated and transported to hospitals; 10 people were in serious condition, four people had moderate injuries, and nine had minor injuries. One of the 10 people with serious injuries was flown to Harborview Medical Center.

Jay Summerlin with West Pierce Fire and Rescue said firefighters had to put their own lives in danger to search the destroyed train cars. They had to use “jaws of life” and air chisels to get access to passengers who were trapped in the mangled cars.

“Those rail cars being on the side of  the freeway like that, dangling off the overpass — very precarious, very dangerous for the fire service, too,” Summerlin said.

The Washington State Department of Ecology sent a team to the site to assess hazardous material that spilled into the surrounding soil, specifically diesel fuel and battery acid. None of those liquids made it into area waters.

>> Attorney believes excessive speed caused derailment
>> Train passenger says train was traveling 82 mph before incident

The National Transportation Safety Board has a team investigating at the scene. Listen to its news conference here.

KIRO 7 reports:

An official briefed on the investigation told The Associated Press that preliminary signs indicate the train may have struck something before going off the track. The official was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Clover Park Schools are closed on Tuesday due to the train derailment and limited traffic routes. They will reopen on Jan. 3 after the holiday break.

I-5 to remain closed until at least Tuesday

The West Pierce Fire Department says cranes will arrive to begin stabilize and move train cars. Washington State Department of Transportation will then inspect the bridge and road bed.

Claudia Bingham Baker, regional communications manager with the WSDOT, said drivers should avoid I-5 in the DuPont area until at least Tuesday morning.

“There are big chunks of the bridge on the highway and there are big chunks of steel with rebar in it,” Troyer told KIRO Radio.

“They have a lot of investigating, extricating, vehicles that are mangled in this mess with the rail cars that are upside down, rail wheels strewn about the freeway and on the hills,” Troyer said. “Parts of this bridge are down on top of stuff, too. I don’t know if the pictures do it justice … There’s not even room for a single car to squeeze by anywhere here. It’s going to be a long time before they can get this opened up.”

RELATED: Plan your route along SB I-5

Amtrak responds

The train was part of new high-speed service from Amtrak that started on Monday. The 501 was the inaugural trip from Seattle to Portland. Listen Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson’s conference call here.

Amtrak tweeted the following just after 8 a.m.

We are aware of an incident involving Amtrak train 501. We will update with additional details as they become available.

The cause of the derailment is not known.

Amtrak says individuals with question about their friends and family on train 501 should call 1-800-523-9101.

According to Sound Transit’s website, all passenger train systems are supposed to be equipped with Positive Transit Control systems.

“The “Positive Train Control” technology is a fail-safe feature to override human error that could lead to train accidents and is now federally required for all passenger train service across the country.”

Anderson told a NBC reporter in the conference call that this stretch of track was not outfitted with PTC. Read more.

Witness describes derailment

A witness who “may have been within 100 yards” of the crash told KIRO Radio it was a “really scary” scene.

“Saw the smoke and everything just after it happened. Everyone slammed on their brakes really hard… Nobody could really tell what was going on.”

Listen to the entire interview here

How you can help

Bloodworks Northwest and Saint Peters Hospital in Olympia are asking the public for blood donations in the wake of the derailment. Find a Bloodworks location near you.

Bloodworks tweeted:

“We have issued 150+ units of blood in response to Amtrak tragedy, creating major demands on local supply. Please schedule your blood donation as soon as possible at schedule.bloodworksnw.org. Can’t come in today? A donation later this week supports ongoing care. Thank you.”

The City of Lacey says you can donate blood through a mobile location the area over the next few days. Find a mobile location here.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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State Patrol confirms 3 people killed in train derailment