Multiple People Dead After Crash Leaves Passenger Car Dangling Over Freeway

December 18, 2017Dec 18, 2017

Injuries are being reported after an Amtrak train derailed Monday morning in Washington state. The derailment took place outside of Tacoma. The Amtrak train 501 was traveling southbound away from Seattle when it derailed along Interstate 5.

"It caused at least one train car to fall off an overpass and onto an interstate highway," reported Fox.

"Injuries and casualties were reported," Pierce County Sheriff's Office said, though it's unclear how many people that included. The Los Angeles Times is reporting multiple deaths. Later, The Seattle Times confirmed that at least three people are dead. 

Madigan Army Medical Center confirmed that they had accepted 20 patients injured in the Amtrak train derailment. 9 of those people are in serious but stable condition, while 11 are in fair and stable condition.

A highway camera showed at least one train car touching the road, causing a traffic jam. It's caused all southbound lanes of Interstate 5 near Mounts Road in Pierce County to be closed.

Amtrak said it was "aware of an incident involving Amtrak train 501" in a Twitter post.

The Washington State Department of Transportation tweeted that drivers should expect long delays and avoid the area. Southbound Interstate 5 near DuPont was closed shortly after the derailment after traffic backed up for miles.

It's unclear what caused the derailment.

Monday was the first day of schedule changes to include two new round trips between Seattle and Portland, according to the Amtrak website. Amtrak train 501 runs between Portland and Seattle daily.

CBS News spoke to a passenger, Chris Karnes, who described the derailment. He said at least seven cars derailed from the tracks. The emergency doors were not functioning correctly, so passengers had to kick out train windows to exit.

"We had just passed the city of DuPont and it seemed like we were going around a curve," Karnes said. "All of a sudden, we felt this rocking and creaking noise, and it felt like we were heading down a hill. The next thing we know, we're being slammed into the front of our seats, windows are breaking, we stop, and there's water gushing out of the train. People were screaming."

"The tracks for this line were supposed to be upgraded to be able to handle higher speeds," he added. "I'm not sure what happened at this juncture."

The southbound lanes of Interstate 5, which see about 60,000 vehicles per day, are expected to be closed for "an extended period," according to the WSDOT.

The Pierce County Sheriff confirmed that several cars on the motorway were struck when the train derailed. Multiple motorists were injured but no fatalities of motorists have been reported.