A long-distance train accident devastated dozens of passengers on Sept. 26.
More than 50 people became injured, seven hospitalized, and three dead after an Amtrak train derailed in north-central Montana.
The westbound Empire Builder carried about 141 passengers, 16 crew members, two locomotives and 10 cars between Seattle and Chicago. The locomotive deviated from the tracks at about 4 p.m. near Joplin, 150 miles northeast of Helena.
A person who was apparently on the Amtrak train that derailed in Montana, @jacob_cordeiro, posted this photo and said these two cars separated from the rest of the train. That would make three cars tipped on their side that I've seen in pics. No word yet on injuries. pic.twitter.com/5QqhhIxjWu— Steve Lookner (@lookner) September 26, 2021
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) confirmed an investigation is underway.
“NTSB is launching a go-team to investigate Saturday’s derailment of Amtrak’s Empire Builder train,” a representative said according to USA Today.
Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn expressed condolences to victims, and vowed to work with investigators.
“NTSB will identify the cause or causes of this accident, and Amtrak commits to taking appropriate actions to prevent a similar accident in the future,” he said according to the publication. “Until the investigation is complete, we will not comment further on the accident itself.”
NTSB spokesman Eric Weiss confirmed the organization will send a further 14-member team of investigators and railroad signal specialists to the scene.
“We are deeply saddened to learn local authorities are now confirming that three people have lost their lives as a result of this accident,” Amtrak said in a statement obtained by the publication. “We have a team on the ground to fully support the NTSB as they investigate the cause of the derailment.”
Getting reports of an Amtrak derailment near Havre, Montana. This is the Empire Builder that comes through Spokane on the way to Seattle. These pictures are from a passenger; working to get more info. pic.twitter.com/qCvx4I45mr— Melissa Luck ☘ (@MelissaKXLY4) September 25, 2021
Train passenger Megan Vandervest confirmed she is in a stable condition.
“Everyone in our party is okay [and we are] unsure of the status of everyone on the train,” she said on Twitter. “We are currently waiting to be bussed away from the scene.”
Everyone in our party is okay. Unsure if the status of everyone on the train. We’re currently waiting to be bussed away from the scene.— Megan Vandervest (@MegVandervest) September 25, 2021
Chester Councilwoman Rachel Ghekiere revealed she and others helped roughly 50 to 60 passengers seek refuge in a school.
“I went to the school and assisted with water, food, wiping dirt off faces,” she said according to the publication. “They appeared to be tired, shaken but happy that they were where they were. Some looked more disheveled than others, depending where they were on the train.”
Exactly what caused the derailment is unclear.