An Amtrak train derailed near Joplin, Montana on Saturday, September 25, 2021, at approximately 4 p.m. local time. The most recent reports state that at least 3 people have died and more than 50 others have been injured. At least seven remain hospitalized, with rescuers from six nearby counties responding to the emergency.
Eight of the Empire Builder train’s ten cars derailed while it was heading west, en route from Chicago to Seattle. The disaster occurred at the end of Rail Safety Week, which ran from September 20 until September 26, during which Amtrak observed their fifth annual “Operation Clear Track” event.
As of this writing, the cause of the train derailment remains unclear. “We share the sense of urgency to understand why the accident happened; however, until the investigation is complete, we will not comment further on the accident itself,” said William J. Flynn, chief executive of Amtrak. “The NT.S.B. will identify the cause or causes of this accident, and Amtrak commits to taking appropriate actions to prevent a similar accident in the future.”
At the time of the derailment, the train had 141 passengers and 16 crew members aboard. “Everyone who is alive has been extricated from the wreck,” reported Amanda Frickel, disaster and emergency services coordinator for Hill County, Montana. The injured passengers were evacuated to Benefis Health System in Great Falls; the scene of the accident was on a flat and straight section of track approximately 150 miles northeast of Helena. The stretch of track on which the train derailed is maintained by BNSF Railway.
While some train accidents are just that, companies like Amtrak and BNSF Railway are obligated to put the safety of their passengers first by maintaining their trains and the tracks they run on. Regardless of the cause, train accidents can have lasting effects on the people on board as well as the surrounding communities.
Our hearts go out to the victims of this terrible tragedy, as well as their families and the community it has impacted. Our train accident attorneys are following this incident closely as the investigation continues.