Dozens of people were hurt and at least three people were killed when Amtrak train derailed Monday afternoon in northern Missouri, while en route from Los Angeles to Chicago.
The train had been due at Chicago's Union Station just before 3 p.m., but of course never made it.
Amtrak said an eastbound Southwest Chief train derailed after hitting a dump truck at a railroad crossing in the town of Mendon around 12:45 p.m. Missouri State Highway Patrol Trooper Justin Dunn said at least seven cars on the train derailed.
Mendon, with a population of about 160, is about 84 miles northeast of Kansas City.
Officials said the crossing was "uncontrolled," which is common in more rural areas.
"It's uncontrolled intersection at a gravel road – no lights, no electronics, things such as that," said Missouri Highway Patrol Lt. Eric Brown.
A total of 207 passengers and 14 crewmembers were on board the train at the time, according to Dunn. CNN reports at least 50 people were injured.
Dunn said two people on the train and one person in the dump truck were killed.
We've learned one of the people who died was the driver of the dump truck. The two people on the train who died have not been identified.
CBS 2's Lauren Victory reported eight medical helicopters were needed to help shuttle patients for treatment.
"Local authorities are currently assisting customers and we have deployed Amtrak resources to assist," Amtrak said in a statement.
According to pictures posted on Twitter by a man who said he was a passenger on the train, at least five cars of the train ended up completely on their side.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said he was "saddened" to hear of the derailment, saying that Missouri Department of Public Safety and Missouri State Highway Patrol were responding to the scene.
"We ask Missourians to join us in praying for all those impacted," he wrote in posts on social media.
Rob Nightingale took video inside the flipped-over train. In the footage, you can see people barefoot, stepping on windows trying to get out.
Nightingale said he was dozing off when the train started to wobble, then tipped in what he could only describe as slow motion.
"I was afraid the windows were going to smash, so I shimmied myself up against the exit to the room, and then we slid, and then we came to a stop, and it was silent. And then I saw an opening, and the family getting out, and I got out, and then I just sat on the roof," he said.
Passengers are also seen standing on what appears to be a door or a window of the train immediately after the train had tipped over on its side.
Other pictures on social media show the chaos in the cars; luggage thrown everywhere, passengers confused and concerned, with a line to get out an open window.
Outside the train, passengers could be seen on top of the toppled Amtrak train, helping each other climb out, as dozens of people wander the tracks, apparently dazed.
After Nightingale escaped himself, Nightingale went on taking video of the wreckage and the confusing chaos. Passengers scrambled to get out safely – with some being pulled out of windows.
"There was one gentleman who lifted all of us in our train car through the ceiling, and another passenger grabbed us," said passenger Sherri Schwanz.
Two Boy Scout troops were also on board. One 15-year-old scout was seen rendering aid to the dump truck driver until he died.
The passengers also included a group of high school students from Pleasant Ridge, Kansas, who were on their way to the National Leadership Conference in Chicago, according to Future Business Leaders of America spokesman Paul Quirk.
The students were not hurt in the derailment, but chose not to continue their trip to Chicago, and instead are going home.
"I look at the people that are bleeding and injured and then I looked at my kids, and I looked at my wife, and I said, 'There is no way we got out of this without God,'" said teacher Jason Drinkard with the Kansas group.
Other survivors of the crash were taken to a school in the area.
The National Transportation Safety Board has been advised and will be investigating, according to Dunn. A 14-person team from the NTSB will be investigating the crash.
The crash continued to have a ripple effect on train travel in Chicago late Monday. We spoke to a couple who had been planning to get on the Amtrak train for their return trip from Chicago to Los Angeles, and now they are stranded in Chicago.
"Because everything's on such a tight schedule, we couldn't even make alternate arrangements. We actually thought about renting a car and just driving out. We couldn't get a rental car, because everything's booked for the 4th of July holiday," said Steve Messmer. "So our only option is to basically get a ticket and go back home."
Messmer kept his thoughts with the victims of the derailment.
"The first thing too is that you think about the people that did experience that – and that's shocking," Messmer said. "My heart goes out to them."
The Southwest Chief takes about two days to travel from LA to Chicago.
Amtrak said anyone with questions about friends and family who were on board the train that derailed should call 800-523-9101 for information.
First published on June 27, 2022 / 12:47 PM
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