A passenger Amtrak train derailed near Olympia on Monday morning. It had been southbound from Seattle on the inaugural run of a new service.
Several people were killed Monday morning when an Amtrak train derailed and fell off a bridge over Interstate 5 near Mounts Road between Lakewood and Olympia.
The Associated Press, citing an unnamed U.S. official, reported that at least six people were killed in the crash. Gov. Jay Inslee has called a state of emergency in response to the derailment.
Pierce County Sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer told news media that there were casualties on the train and that motorists had been injured, but not killed.
A total of 77 people were sent to hospitals in Pierce and Thurston counties, according to CHI Franciscan Health, which operates numerous hospitals in Western Washington. Four of the injured are “level red” patients, with critical injuries.
The injured are being taken to St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma, St. Claire Hospital in Lakewood, St. Anthony Hospital in Gig Harbor, Tacoma General Hospital, Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia and Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma.
There were 78 passengers and five crew members on the train when it derailed, according to Amtrak.
The southbound lanes of Interstate 5 were completely blocked by the train and the Washington State Patrol said they would likely be closed all of Monday.
Amtrak tweeted that it was train No. 501 on an inaugural run, which left Seattle for Portland at 6 a.m., that derailed.
According to WSDOT, the train was running down a new bypass created to avoid slow curves and “single track tunnels on the BNSF Railway main line tracks near Point Defiance and along southern Puget Sound.”
The project rerouted passenger trains to an inland route on an existing rail line that runs along the west side of I-5 through south Tacoma, Lakewood and DuPont and then reconnects back to the BNSF Railway main line near Nisqually on the east side of I-5.
Monday morning was the first time Amtrak trains used the new Point Defiance Bypass route. It was the culmination of a $181 million project that began in 2010. A new Amtrak station also opened in Tacoma. The change would reduce the length of the trip by 10 minutes and separate Amtrak trains from freight lines that frequently cause delays on the Point Defiance route.
Anthony Raimondi, of Gig Harbor, was riding round trip on the inaugural run because he worked for Amtrak for 17 years and loves trains.