Amtrak’s Southwest Chief was carrying about 207 passengers and crew members when the collision occurred near Mendon at a rural intersection on a gravel road with no lights or electronic controls.
Mendon: An Amtrak passenger train traveling from Los Angeles to Chicago collided with a dump truck Monday in a remote area of Missouri, killing three people and injuring dozens more when the cars slid off the tracks and landed on their sides, authorities said. Two of the dead were on the train and one was in the truck, said Missouri State Highway Patrol spokesman Cpl. Justin Dunn said. It was not immediately clear how many people were injured, the patrol said, but hospitals reported receiving more than 40 patients from the crash and were expecting more.
Amtrak’s Southwest Chief was carrying about 207 passengers and crew members when the collision occurred near Mendon at a rural intersection on a gravel road with no lights or electronic controls, according to the highway patrol. Officials were still trying to determine the exact number of people on board. Seven cars derailed, the patrol said.
Rob Nightingale said he was falling asleep in his cabin when the lights flickered and the train rocked back and forth.
“It was like slow motion. Then, all of a sudden, I felt it tilt in my direction. I saw the ground coming up to my window, and all the debris and dust,” Nightingale told The Associated Press. “Then he sat sideways and there was complete silence. I sat there and heard nothing. Then I heard a little girl crying next door.”
Nightingale was unhurt and he and other passengers were able to climb out of the overturned train car through a window.
The collision wrecked the dump truck, he said.
“It was all over the tracks,” said Nightingale, an art gallery owner from Taos, New Mexico, who said he regularly rides Amtrak to Chicago.
It’s too early to speculate on why the truck was on the tracks, said Jennifer Homendy, chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board. A team of NTSB investigators will arrive Tuesday, she said. Trains will not be able to run on the tracks for “a matter of days” while they gather evidence, she added.
At one point, KMBC-TV helicopter video showed train cars on their sides as emergency services used ladders to climb one of them. Six medical helicopters stationed nearby were waiting to transport patients.
About 20 local and state law enforcement agencies, ambulance services, fire departments, and medical helicopter services responded, Dunn said. First responders arrived within 20 minutes of receiving a 911 call, he said.
Passenger Dian Couture was in the dining car with her husband celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary when she heard a loud noise and the train lurched and then crashed into the side.
“People on our left side flew up and hit us, and then we were standing on the windows on the right side of the car,” Couture told WDAF-TV.
“Two gentlemen in the front came up, piled a bunch of stuff, and went out the window, and literally knocked us out of our hands.”
Among the passengers were 16 youths and eight adults from two Boy Scout troops traveling home to Appleton, Wisconsin, after a backcountry excursion at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. No one in the group was seriously injured, said Scott Armstrong, director of national media relations for the Boy Scouts of America. The Scouts administered first aid to several injured passengers, including the driver of the dump truck, Armstrong said.
Amtrak is a federally backed company that operates more than 300 passenger trains daily in nearly every contiguous U.S. state and part of Canada. It was the second Amtrak collision in as many days. Three people in a car were killed Sunday afternoon when an Amtrak commuter train crashed into it in Northern California, authorities said.