An Amtrak passenger train derailed Monday morning, spilling multiple cars off an Interstate 5 overpass and killing several people on the train in Pierce County, Washington, according to the spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office.
Several motorists in vehicles that were struck by the fallen train cars suffered injuries, but there were no fatalities among people in those vehicles, the sheriff’s office said.
The deaths “are all contained to the train,” said Ed Troyer, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office spokesman. “It’s pretty horrific.”
Troyer said there were “multiple fatalities” but couldn’t provide a precise number.
He said multiple cars and trucks were struck by the train when at least one car hit the highway, and that some of the injured were able to walk off the train and are receiving treatment.
All southbound lanes of the interstate are closed due to the derailment and the sight stunned motorists heading to work. The incident took place at 7:40 a.m. near DuPont, between Tacoma and Olympia.
“I was traveling to work this morning along I-5 and we came to a sudden stop,” Greg Mukai told CNN by phone. “We all tried to stop quickly to avoid running into each other to be honest. Once we all came to a stop I was able to look up and see, unfortunately, this scary thing of… a train hanging off of the overpass. Lots of military personnel and people ran to try to help the best they could.”
— Several fatalities have been reported among people on the train, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office spokesman said
— Injuries have been reported among motorists on the highway whose vehicles were struck by the falling train cars, Pierce County says
— Photos from the scene show at least one train car on the road, with another dangling over it
Danae Orlob told CNN there was a semi and a crushed truck underneath the train cars.
“We came around the corner and it had to have just happened… there were no police there yet. There was one link of the train off to one side and the other on the other side of the freeway. There were crushed cars underneath. There was an insane amount of fire trucks and ambulances heading towards us.”
Amtrak said it is aware of the incident involving the 501 train, which travels from Seattle to Portland, Oregon.
According to an online schedule, the 501 train is one of Amtrak’s Cascades trains, which they say “connect 18 cities along the I-5 corridor including Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, BC, and Eugene, Oregon.”
Amtrak service south of Seattle is temporarily suspended. Service from Seattle to points north and east is continuing to operate, Amtrak said.
The National Transportation Safety Board tweeted that it is gathering information about an accident involving an Amtrak passenger train near Seattle, Washington.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee tweeted, “Thank you to the first responders on the scene. We’re praying for everyone on board the train, and ask everyone to hold them in your thoughts.”