At least three people were killed and more than 100 injured after an Amtrak train derailed in Washington State sending rail cars hurtling onto a busy highway. According to a news report in The Washington Post, the train was making its inaugural trip on a new service from Seattle to Portland when it derailed the morning of Dec. 18 spilling rail cars onto the Interstate 5 during peak traffic hours.
At least five vehicles passing below on the Interstate 5 including two tractor-trailers were severely damaged as the rail cars from Amtrak Cascades train 501 fell on top of them. About 80 passengers and five crew members were in the train. Washington State Police said aside from the three people who died, about 100 people were transported to local hospitals many of whom remain in critical condition.
Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family members of the deceased. I also wish the injured victims the very best for a speedy and complete recovery. Please keep all those who have been affected in your thoughts and prayers.
Speed Was a Factor
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating this horrific crash. However, based on preliminary assessments, officials say that excessive speed appears to have been a factor. Preliminary data shows that the train was traveling at 80 mph when it derailed. Trains are supposed to reduce their speed to 30 mph to negotiate the curve, according to a spokeswoman for Sound Transit, the company that owns the tracks.
NTSB officials, in addition to looking into the cause, will also assess what crash-avoidance technology existed on the tracks or on the train and whether that technology functioned properly. In this particular case, the train was not equipped with positive train control, a system that would have slowed the train down as it entered the curve.
How Can Victims Protect Their Rights?
We understand what a shock this must be for the scores of individuals who have suffered major, life-changing injuries in this horrific incident, or have lost loved ones in this accident. While the sudden nature of such a traumatic event can be emotionally paralyzing, there are a number of steps train accident victims and their families can take in order to protect their legal rights and options. An experienced train accident lawyer can stay on top of the official investigation, which could take several months to be completed, and guide you through what can be a complex claims process.