3 people have died and at least 50 have been injured as the result of an Amtrak train derailment near Mendon, Missouri on Monday. The train collided with a dump truck at a crossing.
The Southwest Chief train, which Amtrak confirmed was carrying approximately 243 passengers and 12 crew members, was traveling east from Los Angeles to Chicago when it struck a dump truck at a public crossing in Chariton County at about 1:42 pm. Eight cars and two locomotives were derailed as a result of the collision.
According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, two of the three people who lost their lives were on the Amtrak train. The third victim was in the dump truck. A superintendent with Chariton County Ambulance Service said that at least 50 people have been injured. Survivors have been transported to local hospitals as well as a school that is now acting as a triage center.
One passenger said the dump truck looked like it was carrying “big boulders” on it, which could be the reason so many cars derailed. Another passenger said the train “toppled over” and that “every seat was sold out full.”
Among the 200+ passengers were 2 Wisconsin Boy Scout troops on their way back from a retreat in New Mexico and a group of Easton, Kansas high school students who were on a class trip.
Train derailments are rare, but this is the second fatal incident involving an Amtrak train within just the past two days.
On Sunday, three people were killed and two were seriously injured when an Amtrak train collided with a car in Brentwood, California. The train, which was carrying 85 passengers, struck the car at the crossing. In this case, fire department officials said they receive calls about that specific crossing about two times a year because there is no traffic guard or signal at the crossing.
The crossing where Monday's Amtrak accident occurred was also uncontrolled, meaning it had no electronic signals that would warn traffic of an approaching train. This is common in the area.
Crossing incidents are among the most frequent – and serious – railroad accidents in the United States. They are typically fatal for occupants of the smaller vehicle that was attempting to cross the tracks, and they can cause catastrophic derailments such as the one near Mendon, Missouri. When derailments occur as a result of crossing collisions, every passenger will be placed at risk.
The cause of this Amtrak derailment in Missouri is under investigation, and we will be following the details as they emerge. Our hearts go out to the passengers and their families after this tragic incident.