Three people were killed Monday afternoon when an Amtrak train struck a dump truck at an uncontrolled crossing and derailed in rural Missouri.
Two of those killed were onboard the train and the third was inside the dump truck, said Missouri State Highway Patrol spokesperson Justin Dunn in an afternoon press conference.
Earlier in the day, a passenger told The Daily Beast as he was being shuttled away from the scene on a school bus provided by authorities that he feared the crash was a “mass casualty event.”
Reached by phone, Ron Goulet of Flagstaff, Arizona, said he was uninjured but helicopters were evacuating injured passengers.
“They’ve got every rescue helicopter and crew here from every direction,” a shaken Goulet said. “We are in Chariton County, Missouri. The train toppled over on its side. Every seat was sold out full, and they were packing people into the observation car because they were so full. There are plenty of people on back boards being taken [away] by paramedics.”
The train was traveling at about 90 mph around the time of impact, according to KSHB. In total, Dunn said seven of the eight passenger cars were derailed on the train, which was operating between Los Angeles and Chicago.
Two Boy Scout troops headed home to Wisconsin from a retreat in New Mexico were aboard, according to Green Bay CBS affiliate WFRV. Two adults in the group were injured, the outlet reported. A group of high school students from Easton, Kansas were also on the train, going to a Future Business Leaders of America conference, a school administrator told The Kansas City Star.
In a statement, Amtrak said several cars derailed at 12:43 p.m. “after striking a dump truck at a public crossing in Mendon, Missouri.”
“There are approximately 243 passengers onboard with early reports of injuries,” the statement said. “Local authorities are currently assisting customers and we have deployed Amtrak resources to assist.”
First responders arrived about 20 minutes after impact, Dunn said. He said officials are still working to determine the exact number of passengers onboard.
Goulet said he “did not personally see anybody dead,” but that “there are no doubt people still trapped on that train. They’re starting to cut it apart now.”
Another passenger, Rob Nightingale, posted a video on Facebook as he sat on top of the overturned train saying the truck was hit as it crossed the tracks.
Survivors were brought to a local school for triage, Goulet told The Daily Beast. He said there appeared to be dozens of people waiting to be checked out by medical staff.
Ben Cornelius, a spokesman for Boone Hospital in Columbia, Missouri told The Daily Beast around 4:15 p.m. local time that they were expecting “around 30 patients within the next 90 minutes. I do not have information on conditions at this time.”
Teresa Snow, a spokeswoman for MU Health, told The Daily Beast that the facility had received three patients who were injured in the crash.
In Kansas City, which is about 100 miles southeast of the crash site of Mendon, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas offered his condolences on Twitter.
“Having relied on Amtrak to cross our state throughout my college years and long after, I remember the ride well,” said Lucas. “My heart goes out to the passengers and all impacted by today’s event and I extend my thanks to those responding to today’s derailment on the scene and at the hospital.”
The derailment marks the second serious accident involving Amtrak in the past two days. On Sunday, three people died and two were seriously injured—including a child—when an Amtrak train collided with a car in Brentwood, California.
Derailments are relatively uncommon for Amtrak, which has averaged roughly 24 per year over the last decade, down from 43 during the previous 10-year period, according to federal data reviewed by The Washington Post.
The “vast majority” of derailments do not cause serious injury or death, and most are due to weather, mechanical issues, or human error, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.
Amtrak did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for additional details. One passenger tweeted that they were stuck in Albuquerque due to the derailment, subsequently adding that Amtrak said it could get her to Kansas City “but no further.”