At least three people were killed Monday after an Amtrak train hit a dump truck and derailed in Missouri, officials said. It’s not yet clear how many were injured, though at least two hospitals said they had received patients.
Officials said Southwest Chief Train 4, which was carrying 275 passengers and 12 crew members from Los Angeles to Chicago, hit a truck near Mendon, Missouri, at approximately 12:43 pm local time. An official from the Missouri State Highway Patrol said the crossing was “uncontrolled” and had no lights or crossing rails, which is common in more rural areas.
Seven of the train’s eight cars derailed, Missouri State Highway Patrol Corporal Justin Dunn said at a press conference.
Two of the victims were on the train and the other was in the truck, Dunn said. It’s not clear if the train victims were passengers or crew members. All passengers have been transported from the scene, Dunn said.
The National Transportation Safety Board said it’s sending a 16-member team to investigate the incident.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg tweeted that he’s “saddened by the tragic loss of life and injuries,” adding that his team is working with Amtrak and authorities to provide support.
Amtrak said Monday night that it was “deeply saddened” to learn of the deaths, adding that it’s cooperating with local authorities.
A passenger on the train, Ron Goulet, CBS News he was watching traffic told on a side road from the train window when he felt the impact.
“The car lurched forward and then in no time, in that slow motion situation, the car was turning on its side,” Goulet said. “People were flying in all directions. Baggage. People. It was terrible.”
Goulet said he left the train through windows that were pointed toward the sky after the car rolled over.
“It was just a surreal situation,” he said.
Two Boy Scouts of America troops totaling 16 scouts and eight adults were on the train returning from a wilderness retreat in New Mexico, according to a spokesperson for the organization. All of them suffered minor injuries, and two leaders were taken to hospitals with non-life threatening injuries, the spokesperson said.
A 15-year-old scout found the driver of the dump truck that had been struck and rendered aid until the driver died, the spokesperson said.
Mendon is about two hours northeast of Kansas City. University of Missouri Health Care, a hospital in Columbia, Missouri, said it is caring for 16 patients from the derailment. University Health in Kansas City, a Level 1 Trauma Center able to handle severe injuries, said it has received one person who was transported by helicopter.
Photographs and videos appeared to show multiple cars turned on their side with passengers sitting on top, and another video appeared to show passengers comforting each other from the inside of an overturned train car.
Congressman Sam Graves, who represents Mendon, said he’s “closely monitoring” the derailment.
Missouri Governor Mike Parson said he’s “saddened” to hear of the derailment, adding that “Missouri Department of Public Safety, Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers, and other emergency management personnel are responding.”