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Multiple Deaths in Amtrak Train Derailment Accident in Washington
Authorities say it could take more than a year to understand how the inaugural run of the train carrying 85 passengers and crew members ended in disaster along a new 15-mile (24-kilometer) bypass route. Friends Jim Hamre, 61, and Zack Willhoite, 35, died of brain and skull injuries. Benjamin Gran, 40, died of multiple traumatic injuries. Whimpering in pain, bleeding from head injuries and dazed by the enormity of the crash, victims in the Amtrak train derailment south of Seattle begged 911 dispatchers for help and said “tons of people” had been hurt. Dozens of emergency recordings released Wednesday by South Sound 911 Dispatch provided a vivid account of what happened during the deadly Dec. 18 crash. “My abdomen hurts really bad. I don’t feel good,” said a crying woman identified as Angela who was bleeding from her head and wailed in panic each time she couldn’t find an answer to a dispatcher’s questions. “I don’t know how old I am off the top of my head. I’m sorry!” A passenger train on a newly opened Amtrak route jumped the tracks on an overpass south of Tacoma on Monday, slamming rail cars into a busy highway, killing at least three people and injuring about 100 others, officials said. The derailment of Amtrak Train No. 501, making the inaugural run of a new service from Seattle to Portland, dropped a 132-ton locomotive in the southbound lanes of the Northwest’s busiest travel corridor, Interstate 5. Two passenger coaches also fell partly in the traffic lanes, and two other coaches were left dangling off the bridge, one of them wedged against a tractor-trailer. On the highway below lay five crumpled cars, two semi trucks and huge chunks of concrete that were ripped away from the damaged overpass. All 12 of the train’s coaches and one of its two engines derailed. The National Transportation Safety Board said at a Monday night briefing that the train had been traveling more than twice the speed limit before it derailed, or at 80 miles per hour instead of the allowable 30 m.p.h. Don Anderson, mayor of Lakewood, about 11 miles northeast of the crash site, said shortly after the wreck that the tragedy “could’ve been avoided if better choices had been made” about using the route for upgraded passenger service. “Our community was skeptical of the project both from a financial and safety standpoint, primarily a safety standpoint,” Anderson said The mayor of a city along a new route taken by the Amtrak train that derailed in Washington state had expressed concerns about the line as long ago as 2013, court records show.
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