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Amtrak Derailment Injures 28; Crews Work To Restore Track

January 20, 1986

DUPONT, Wash. (AP) _ Railroad crews labored Monday to remove two engines and five cars of an Amtrak train that derailed when it struck a 120-foot section of track washed out by heavy rain, injuring 28 people.

The nine-car Coast Starlight, carrying 192 passengers and 16 crew members, jumped the track Sunday afternoon along Puget Sound 45 miles south of Seattle in a steep, wooded area drenched by rain late last week, said Burlington Northern spokesman Howard Kallio.

Twenty passengers and eight crew members were treated at hospitals, said Amtrak spokesman John Jacobsen. All were released Sunday night except for Myrtle Young, 92, of Victoria, British Columbia.

She was admitted to St. Peter Hospital in Olympia with back injuries, but was in satisfactory condition, hospital spokesman David Coble said.

Kallio said the train, traveling from Los Angeles to Seattle and operated by Burlington Northern employees, was traveling about 35 mph in a 60 mph zone when the engineer spotted the washout and slammed on the brakes. Kallio said the washout was 120 feet long and 50 feet deep.

″There was a sudden stop and everybody flew forward,″ said passenger Steven Nieker, 17, of Chicago. ″A lot of people were getting thrown around. It wasn’t fun. There was an awful lot of confusion.″

The train was about two miles behind a freight train when it hit the washout, said Pierce County Sheriff’s Capt. Steve Poythress. The freight train apparently had no difficulty and gave no warning to the Coast Starlight, he said.

The train’s two engines and first five cars derailed, Kallio said. All remained upright except the second locomotive, which tipped over into the ravine and caught fire, he said.

Firefighters sent by rail extinguished the fire, Kallio said. He said the two crew members in the cab of the lead engine were not hurt.

While they waited in the dark cars, passengers helped bandage the injured and many shared blankets and food.

″We passed around cookies, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and beer,″ Nieker said. ″It was a pretty good wait.

The accident caused about $400,000 in damage to the track and an additional $500,000 in damage to the cars, officials said.

Kallio said crews planned to use special tow trucks to get the engines and cars back on the rails by early Tuesday. But repairing the track, using more than 4,000 cubic feet of material to fill in the ravine, will take at least 48 hours, officials said.

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