Amtrak Train Derails; One Dead; Possibility of Tampering Probed
HYDER, Ariz. (AP) _ An Amtrak train carrying 267 people derailed today in a remote desert area, sending cars toppling from a bridge, killing one person and injuring more than 100. The FBI was investigating the possibility of tampering.
At least three cars fell about 30 feet from a bridge over a dry streambed, said Sgt. Tim Campbell of the Maricopa County sheriff’s office.
The train, the Sunset Limited, was bound for Los Angeles from Miami and was carrying 248 passengers and 19 crew members, said Rob Borella, an Amtrak spokesman in Washington. The derailment occurred around 1 a.m., 50 to 60 miles southwest of Phoenix.
All 12 cars and two locomotives derailed, Borella said. The three cars that fell from the bridge were two sleepers and a diner, he said.
``We were both awakened at the same time by this violent shaking ...,″ an unidentified passenger told KTVK-TV in Phoenix. ``Then it began to slowly tilt as it was moving and shaking and suddenly _ boom.″
The FBI was investigating the possibility of tampering, said Jon Poston, spokesman for the state Corporation Commission, which regulates railroads.
``It’s being investigated as a criminal event,″ said Officer Norman Jones, spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety. Campbell said without elaborating that an engineer had reported seeing something unusual.
One person was killed, 12 were seriously injured and about 100 others suffered less serious injuries, Campbell said.
Helicopters were taking injured from the scene, which isn’t easily accessible by road, to a staging area about six miles away.
``We’ve got helicopters from all over the state, including the military. They’re bringing all the patients out to the landing zone, where they’re being transferred to various ambulances,″ Campbell said.
In Phoenix, Maricopa County Medical Center was told to expect about 100 injured, said Robin Talmadge, nursing manager of the emergency room there.
At St. Joseph’s Hospital, a 31-year-old passenger, who had been traveling the train on her honeymoon, was in good condition, said a nursing supervisor who refused to give her name.
The accident site is 27 miles east of this tiny town in Yuma County and about 20 miles north of Interstate 8, which runs through southwest Arizona.
Two years ago, Sept. 22, 1993, an eastbound Sunset Limited train derailed into a bayou near Saraland, Ala., killing 47 people. It was the worst accident in Amtrak’s quarter-century history. An investigation found that a barge lost in fog had struck the bridge shortly before the derailment, knocking the rails out of alignment.