An Amtrak train headed to Portland this morning derailed off a bridge over Interstate 5 between Lakewood and Olympia, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Pierce County sheriff's office. Three people riding the train died and others injured, according to the Associated Press.
Amtrak Cascades Train 501, which reportedly left Seattle at 6am to Portland, was a new higher-speed rail line that carried 78 passengers and five crew members when it crashed and derailed off the overpass in DuPont. Injured passengers have been taken to local medical facilities for treatment.
"All of a sudden, we felt this rocking and creaking noise, and it felt like we were heading down a hill," a passenger, Chris Karnes, told CBS News. "The next thing we know, we're being slammed into the front of our seats, windows are breaking, we stop, and there's water gushing out of the train. People were screaming."
Four of the 77 patients being transported to hospitals in Pierce and Thurston counties have "level red" or most serious injuries, according to CHI Franciscan Health.
Lakewood Mayor Don Anderson told The Seattle Times he predicted that "somebody is going to get killed" over the new rail line and its at-grade railroad crossings; the city tried to stop the project back in 2013, though the concerns over crossings were over pedestrian and car collisions rather than derailments.
WSDOT told reporters the train was on the first run using a new bypass route that was created to avoid BNSF Railway tracks near Point Defiant. The Amtrak train struck vehicles on I-5 southbound and completely blocked all I-5 southbound lanes near Mounts Road.
"Today's tragic incident in Pierce County is a serious and ongoing emergency," Governor Jay Inslee said in a statement. "Trudi and I are holding in our hearts everyone on board, and are praying for the many injured. They are our top priority, and I know first responders are doing everything to ensure everyone has the care they need."
All SB lanes of I-5 blocked near Mounts Road in Pierce County due to derailed train car. Avoid area! pic.twitter.com/SBH7dCc6yg— WSDOT Tacoma Traffic (@wsdot_tacoma) December 18, 2017
Service between Seattle and Portland have been suspended, an Amtrak spokesperson told CBS News. I-5 in the Lacey and Olympia area have been shut down, according to WSDOT. Be prepared for an increase in traffic at ferry terminals.
Again - avoid traveling south on I-5 to Thurston County today. If you must go, consider a ferry to the peninsula as alternate routes in Pierce County will be jammed & know before you go, mountain snow is in the forecast. https://t.co/RR89dlAWei— WSDOT North Traffic (@wsdot_north) December 18, 2017
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said the city has offered aid to Pierce and Thurston counties and "is ready to work with Amtrak, local, state, and federal officials" to respond.
"This catastrophic derailment is horrific," she said in a released statement Monday morning. "My thoughts are with the passengers, families, and those injured as well as our first responders, firefighters, and police who rushed to the scene."
President Donald Trump also weighed in on the derailment:
The train accident that just occurred in DuPont, WA shows more than ever why our soon to be submitted infrastructure plan must be approved quickly. Seven trillion dollars spent in the Middle East while our roads, bridges, tunnels, railways (and more) crumble! Not for long!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 18, 2017
Friends and family wondering about someone who might have been on the train can call 1-800-523-9101.
Updated 2:45pm on December 22 to correct that three people died.