Amtrak train that derailed in Washington state ‘was travelling 80mph in 30mph zone’
A young British man was among the casualties of a train crash which killed three people near Seattle, authorities confirmed last night.
The passenger train was 50mph over the speed limit when it derailed in DuPont city, Washington state, onto a busy motorway and led to 100 people being taken to hospital.
Among the injured was an unnamed Briton who is thought to have received assistance from the British consulate after his passport was lost on the train.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee, who visited a hospital where some of the victims were being treated, told Sky News: "There’s a young man whose passport is on the train, going to England, and we want to make sure we can get him home and I assured him we’ll take care of that."
Safety inspectors will likely interview the train’s engineer on Wednesday after engine data revealed the probable cause of the deadly crash.
All of the train’s carriages have now been searched and the death toll lowered from an earlier figure of six.
However, authorities said they have not ruled out a rise in the total number of fatalities.
Passengers described the train rocking and creaking as it took the bend at speed before barrelling off a bridge on to a motorway packed with traffic.
Seven vehicles, including two lorries, were hit on the I-5 highway below. Despite multiple injuries none of the motorists were among the fatalities.
The Amtrak passenger train crashed shortly after leaving a new station on its inaugural run of a new high-speed route, part of an $181m (£82m) investment project.
One of the dead was identified as Zack Willhoite, a customer service employee and a railroad buff excited to be on the first passenger run of the new route.
Amtrak’s president, Richard Anderson, revealed that a safety system that can automatically slow or stop a speeding train was not in use on this stretch of track.
One of the train passengers was Emma Shafer, who found herself at a 45-degree angle staring at the seats in front of her that had dislodged and swung around.
"It felt oddly silent after the actual crashing," Shafer said. "Then there was people screaming because their leg was messed up … I don’t know if I actually heard the sirens, but they were there. A guy was like, ‘Hey, I’m Robert. We’ll get you out of here.’"
Eric Corp, a councilman for the small city of DuPont near the derailment, said he rode the train with about 30 or so dignitaries and others on a special trip Friday before the service opened to the public Monday.
"Once we were coming up on that curve, the train slowed down considerably," he said, adding that "in no way did it make me feel like we were going too fast."
Dispatch audio also indicated that the engineer survived with bleeding from the head and both eyes swollen shut.
"I’m still figuring that out. We’ve got cars everywhere and down onto the highway," he tells the dispatcher, who asks if everyone is OK.
Aleksander Kristiansen, a 24-year-old exchange student at the University of Washington from Copenhagen, was going to Portland to visit the city for the day.
"I was just coming out of the bathroom when the accident happened. My car just started shaking really, really badly," he said.
The back of his train car was wide open because it had separated from the rest of the train, so he and others were able to jump out to safety.
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