Another horrific mass transit accident has been reported, this time just outside of Philadelphia, where a passenger train was catapulted off the tracks.
On Tuesday, May 12 around 9 p.m., an Amtrak train carrying 238 passengers and five crew members from Washington D.C. to New York City derailed, careening off the tracks, causing the seven cars to spin, flip and rip apart. The wreck happened on the busy New York-to-Philadelphia corridor.
In the initial aftermath, authorities are reporting at least six people are dead and 144 are known to be injured. Although most of the others are not seriously hurt, authorities have ominously revealed not all passengers are accounted for. That’s why emergency crews have been toiling away to search for anyone who may still be trapped in the gnarled mess of metal wreckage that remains.
Five were pronounced dead at the scene while a sixth person died at a local hospital of massive chest injuries. A minimum of eight other people were listed in critical condition by hospital staffers.
Of the 54 people who were transported to area hospitals for treatment, at least 25 were still receiving care as of Wednesday. Some may be hospitalized for weeks or more.
Officials say the tedious process of getting a full accounting of who was on that train and who they have yet to account for is still ongoing. There is still the possibility that some people who had a ticket may have failed to board.
Witnesses are beginning to emerge to describe the chaos that unfolded as the train sailed off the tracks. One passenger told news crews he saw people being thrown into luggage racks. He saw laptops and cell phones flying. People were slamming into windows and there were seemingly endless screams and cries as people were in agony, badly injured, trapped or dying. Some were able to crawl out of emergency exit windows.
Among those known to survive were several journalists and a former U.S. representative.
The National Transportation Safety Board has launched a full investigation into the incident, and its railway experts were scouring the scene Wednesday for clues as to what went wrong.
Our Boston MBTA accident lawyers know it is so easy for people to be lulled into a false sense of security when it comes to the safety when it comes to mass transit. But the fact is, human error and mechanical failure can still result in catastrophic injuries and wrongful death.
Interestingly, the curve where this crash occurred is the same site of another of America’s worst train crashes – 72 years ago. In 1943, it was at that same curve a train derailed after an axle snapped at high speed, sending the train – filled with servicemen and vacationers – off the track. In all, 79 people died and 117 were seriously injured. The intersection where that crash occurred is just a tenth of a mile from where this crash, Amtrak train 188, derailed.
This crash is the latest in a string of major passenger rail accidents. It comes too at a critical time in Washington, as some members of Congress are pushing to reduce federal safety spending on transportation programs. Specifically, the House was preparing Wednesday to weigh a measure that would reduce Amtrak’s annual federal funding from $1.4 billion to $1.13 billion.
The urgency of this debate is now further underscored by this awful – and likely preventable – tragedy.
If you are injured in a train accident in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.
Teams comb Amtrak wreckage for more victims; 6 dead, May 13, 2015, USA Today
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