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New Amtrak Cascades Train Derails Onto I-5 Near Lacey; 3 Dead, 77 Injured

Updated on: 9/24/2020

Dupont, WA Train Wreck

UPDATE (12:23 p.m.): The train involved in Monday's Amtrak Cascades derailment will not be removed from I-5 until NTSB is done investigating the scene, Amtrak told The News Tribune. The NTSB team is expected to arrive sometime late Monday.

Washington State Patrol said 13 of 14 parts of the Amtrak train came off the tracks.

UPDATE (11:57 a.m.): Audio obtained by describes the crash as it came into dispatchers: "Emergency! Emergency! Emergency! We are on the ground!" the engineer said. "We are on the bridge over I-5 near Nisqually... on the freeway. Need EMS [emergency services] ASAP. Looks like they are already starting to show up."

A dispatcher asks the engineer, "Hey guys, what happened?"

"We were coming around the corner to take the bridge over I-5 there right north of Nisqually, and we went on the ground."

The dispatcher asks if everyone is OK.

"I'm still trying to figure that out. We got cars everywhere and down onto the highway."

UPDATE (11:45 a.m.): The National Transportation Safety Board is launching its "go team" to the site of the accident. During a press conference in Washington, D.C., the NTSB said it's still too early to say how fast the train was traveling when it derailed.

UPDATE (11:29 a.m.): President Trump commented on the Amtrak derailment in a speech this afternoon:

"Let me begin by expressing our deepest sympathies and most heartfelt prayers for the victims of the train derailment in Washington state," Mr. Trump said from the Ronald Reagan building in Washington, D.C. "We are closely monitoring the situation and coordinating with local authorities. It is all the more reason why we must start immediately fixing the infrastructure of the United States." 

UPDATE (10:35 a.m.): At least there were killed, according to the Associated Press. 

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has declared a state of emergency. 

“Today’s tragic incident in Pierce County is a serious and ongoing emergency," Inslee said in a statement. "Trudi and I are holding in our hearts everyone on board, and are praying for the many injured. They are our top priority, and I know first responders are doing everything to ensure everyone has the care they need. Everyone should avoid traveling I-5, and WSDOT is working to open alternative routes through the area during the emergency response. This morning I spoke with my cabinet officials, and we are in touch with Amtrak who we know are working to provide as much information as possible.”

UPDATE (9:59 a.m.): There were 80 passengers and five crew members onboard train, according to Amtrak.

UPDATE (9:29 a.m.): At least three passengers on the train were killed, sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said.

UPDATE (9:15 a.m.): The News Tribune is reporting that several cars on I-5 were struck by the train, though none of the fatalities were motorists. The train reportedly hit a semi-truck as it fell into I-5.

Injuries and casualties are being reported this morning after a new Amtrak train derailed and apparently fell onto Interstate 5 near Lacey, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department tweeted.

All southbound lanes of traffic were blocked by the derailment. Washington State Department of Transportation says 70 people were on board when the train derailed. Train cars fell to either side of the trestle when it derailed. Some people on the train reportedly said it felt like it hit something.

The derailment occurred at about 7:30 a.m. just south of Mounts Round in Pierce County. The train that derailed is the new 501 service line, the "Mt. Adams," Cascades service from Seattle to Portland. The train left from the new Tacoma Dome station and derailed in Dupont, the inaugural trip for the new line.

The new train began running Monday, Dec. 18. The route is an alternative for drivers. The train reportedly was going between 79 and 81 miles per hour at the time of the crash. The curve that the train was in at the time of the crash was reportedly a 30 mph zone. The high-speed train was being pushed rather than pulled by the locomotive.

There were 14 miles of new track added to the new route. 

Chris Karnes, the chairman of Pierce Transit’s advisory board, was aboard the train when it derailed.

The Nature Of A Train Derailment

Many factors can cause a train derailment. Here are some of the most common:

  • Operator error/fatigue
  • Poor train maintenance
  • Excessive speed
  • Alcohol or illegal drug use
  • Failure to use a horn
  • Defective crossing signals

Statistics show there are about 3,000 train accidents that result in about 1,000 deaths each year. Even a “minor” train accident can cause catastrophic injury or death due to the massive size and weight.

For more detailed information, read AMTRAK CASCADES DERAILMENT DISASTER: A Legal Guide For Accident Victims/Survivors.  

Consult With A Train Accident Attorney After An Accident

Train accidents are often very complex and involve multiple parties, persons, and agencies. Trains are subject to different laws, standards, and statutes of limitations than motor vehicle accident cases.

If you or a loved one has been hurt, or you know someone that has been killed in a train accident, you need to consider the services of an experienced and knowledgeable train accident attorney. Attorney Chris Davis of the Seattle-based Davis Law Group, P.S., has the resources and legal expertise to properly invest in your case and get you the best settlement possible.

To contact the Davis Law Group for a free case evaluation, call (206) 727-4000, use the chat feature below or fill out the contact form on this page.

Image: The News Tribune

Chris Davis
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Chris Davis is the founder of Davis Law Group, P.S. in Seattle, WA.
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