At least 3 dead, others critical following Amtrak derailment in Washington
TACOMA, Wash. - Authorities say at least three fatalities have been confirmed following a train derailment in Washington state Monday morning.
The Pierce County Sheriff's Office has confirmed "multiple fatalities in a press conference following the crash, however it's still unclear exactly how many were killed.
The Amtrak train derailed roughly 40 miles south of Seattle, spilling cars onto a busy interstate. The train derailed just before 8 a.m. Monday.
All southbound lanes of Interstate 5 were closed south of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and motorists were being warned to avoid the area. Authorities say several injuries and casualties have been reported.
The train derailed just south of Tacoma, Washington.
WSP diverting traffic at DuPont. WSP aiding withbroad closure & getting assistance to scene. pic.twitter.com/fRw4uGNIVv— Trooper Brooke Bova (@wspd1pio) December 18, 2017
Witness Daniel Konzelman was driving alongside the highway when he and his friend rushed to help the victims. He says they saw train cars with the roofs ripped off or tipped upside down Monday and a few vehicles on the roadway that were damaged.
Konzelman and his friend climbed into train cars and found injured passengers, some who were pinned underneath the train and others who appeared to be dead.
He also says that if victims could move and seemed stable, he helped them climb out of the train. If they appeared seriously hurt, he tried to offer comfort by talking to them to calm them down.
The 24-year-old says he's an Eagle Scout with first-aid and emergency response training.
The section of track where an Amtrak train derailed had just been upgraded as part of a $181 million project for a new faster route.
Sound Transit, the public transit system for the Seattle area, owns the track and oversaw construction of the upgrades.
Agency spokeswoman Kimberly Reason says extensive testing was done before the opening of the system Monday but didn't immediately have further details.
Reason says the project rerouted Amtrak trains that had been taking a slower route along a BNSF Railway line.
Authorities say at least six people died when the train went off the track and sent some cars onto a highway below.