‘It was pretty chaotic’: 3 dead in Amtrak train derailment in Montana – WCCO

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A bridge investigation is underway after a fatal Amtrak derailment.

The Empire Builder train, with 160 people on board, derailed Saturday afternoon near Joplin, MT. Three people were killed and dozens more were injured.

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A derailment seemed so unlikely to Minneapolis resident Megan Vandervest that she ruled it out as a possibility.

“I was actually asleep when the train derailed, so I woke up derailing,” Vandervest said. “I would describe the experience as extreme turbulence in an airplane but louder.”

After the evacuation, she saw that eight cars on the Amtrak train were off the tracks, some of which she said had tipped over completely.

“It was the most shocking part, like an immediate shock because we didn’t know something had happened,” she said.

(credit: Megan Vandervest)

The Empire Builder operates between Chicago and Seattle, with a stop at St. Paul’s Union Depot. There are a total of six Amtrak stops in Minnesota.

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“It was pretty chaotic to be honest, just when we got down, the picture of it. You knew there would be injuries, but we didn’t see any on our own, ”said Vandervest. “There were people very concerned about their loved ones. Some had passengers, loved ones, on coaches while in sleeping cars, but overall the mood was very disconnected.

Montana Governor Greg Gianforte said Sunday that five people were hospitalized in stable condition.

“It was really a situation where everyone was on the bridge. This little community here, there were about 160 passengers on the train. They all had to be afraid on some level at least to determine whether there were injuries or not, ”said Gianforte.

Many passengers were taken to a nearby high school. Amtrak trains that travel between Seattle and Chicago and pass through St. Paul’s Union Depot will be disrupted until at least Tuesday.

Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn said his company is cooperating with the investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board and other agencies. He issued a statement on the tragedy on Sunday afternoon, saying in part: “Today we mourn the people who have lost their lives… as well as the many others who have been injured. We have no words to adequately express our grief for those who have lost a loved one or been hurt in this horrific event. They are in our thoughts and prayers.

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Click here to check the current status of Amtrak trains.


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