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A history of some of Amtrak's deadliest derailments

Published: Monday, December 18, 2017 @ 1:10 PM

Train Derails In Washington State, Injuries and Casualties Reported

A high-speed Amtrak train derailed in Washington state Monday morning in what law enforcement is calling a “mass casualty” event.

According to officials, the train left Tacoma, Washington, Monday morning heading southbound. At least three cars derailed from an overpass above Interstate 5 near Dupont, Washington, around 7:40 a.m. local time.

One witness told CNN that a passenger train car had “crushed” vehicles on the road below, and that railcars had fallen off both sides of the track. According to law enforcement, no one on the ground was killed. “Multiple people” riding in the train were killed, according to officials.

The train is believed to have been on its maiden run of a new high-speed service on the route. It was headed south to Portland, Oregon.

Facts about Amtrak

Amtrak was created by Congress in 1970 to take over the intercity passenger rail services previously operated by private railroad companies in the United States. Operations began on May 1, 1971. 

The name "Amtrak" results from the blending of the words "America" and "track." The railroad is officially known as the National Railroad Passenger Corporation.
 

In 2016, 31.3 million customers used Amtrak. On an average day, nearly 85,700 passengers ride more than 300 Amtrak trains.

Amtrak is a federally chartered corporation, with the federal government as majority stockholder. The board is appointed by the president of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Amtrak is operated as a for-profit company, rather than a public authority.

Amtrak is the only railroad in North America to maintain right-of-way for service at speeds in excess of 125 mph (201 kph), and its engineering forces maintain more than 350 miles of track for 100+ mph (160+ kph) service.

From National Transportation Safety Board records, here's a look at what happened in some of the worst Amtrak train crash incidents in the company’s history:

April 3, 2016: (Chester, Pa.)
Two maintenance workers were struck and killed by an Amtrak train going more than 100 mph in Chester, Pennsylvania. The lead engine of the train derailed.
March 14, 2016 (Kansas)
An Amtrak train traveling from Los Angeles to Chicago derailed in southwest Kansas, sending five cars off the tracks and injuring at least 32 people. Investigators concluded that a cattle feed delivery truck hit the track and shifted it at least a foot before the derailment.
Oct. 5, 2015 (Vermont)
A passenger train headed from Vermont to Washington, D.C., derailed when it hit rocks that had fallen onto the track from a ledge. The locomotive and a passenger car spilled down an embankment, derailing three other cars and injuring seven people.
May 12, 2015 (Philadelphia)
An eastbound Amtrak passenger train derailed after taking a curve at 100 mph, where the speed limit of that second of track is 50 mph. Eight people were killed, and more than 200 injured. High speed and human error were determined to be the cause.
March 9, 2015 (Halifax, N.C.)
At least 55 people were injured when an Amtrak train traveling from North Carolina to New Jersey derailed after colliding with an oversized tractor-trailer that was stuck on the tracks in Halifax.
June 23, 2014 (Massachusetts)
An Amtrak train hit a vehicle that was apparently driving on train tracks in Massachusetts, killing three people in the vehicle and derailing the train just before midnight in a remote area about 24 miles southwest of Boston. None of the 180 people on board the train was injured.
Oct. 21, 2012 (Niles, Mich.)
About a dozen passengers and crew members on an Amtrak train from Chicago to Pontiac, Michigan, were injured when two locomotives and one or more coaches derailed after the train lost contact with the track near Niles, Michigan.
June 24, 2011 (Nevada)
A truck slammed into the side of an Amtrak California Zephyr train at a rural crossing 70 miles east of Reno, Nevada, killing six people and injuring dozens. The train was traveling from Chicago to California.
April 18, 2002 (Crescent City, Fla.)
An Amtrak Auto Train derailed because of a heat-induced track buckle. Four people were killed and more than 140 injured.
February 16, 1996 (Silver Spring, Md.)
An Amtrak passenger train was hit by a Maryland Rail Commuter (MARC) train after the MARC train failed to stop at a junction. Eleven were killed and 26 injured. Human error was determined to be the cause of the crash.
September 22, 1993 (Mobile, Ala.)
An Amtrak train derailed into a bayou outside of Mobile, Ala., killing 47 and injuring 103. The derailment happened when a barge bumped into a railroad bridge in heavy fog, displacing it minutes before the train arrived.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Toronto van attack: 9 dead, injuries reported

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 5:21 PM

Emergency services close Yonge Street in Toronto after a van mounted a sidewalk crashing into a crowd  of pedestrians on Monday, April 23, 2018. The van apparently jumped a curb Monday in the intersection in Toronto and struck the pedestrians and fled the scene before it was found and the driver was taken into custody, Canadian police said. (Aaron Vincent Elkaim/The Canadian Press via AP)
Aaron Vincent Elkaim/AP
Emergency services close Yonge Street in Toronto after a van mounted a sidewalk crashing into a crowd of pedestrians on Monday, April 23, 2018. The van apparently jumped a curb Monday in the intersection in Toronto and struck the pedestrians and fled the scene before it was found and the driver was taken into custody, Canadian police said. (Aaron Vincent Elkaim/The Canadian Press via AP)(Aaron Vincent Elkaim/AP)

A van apparently jumped onto a sidewalk Monday at a busy intersection in Toronto and struck down pedestrians before the vehicle was found and the driver taken into custody, Canadian police said.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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HURRICANE HARVEY: Bait shop owner’s insurance payout thwarted by a typo

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 9:49 AM

Mary Ann Heiman purchased windstorm insurance for her property along the causeway between Aransas Pass and Port Aransas, believing her business was covered when Hurricane Harvey destroyed the property. However, later, when she placed a claim with the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA), she was denied citing an inverted address number. Heiman stands on the concrete platform where the business once stood, on Thursday April 20, 2018, in Port Aransas, TX.
AMANDA VOISARD / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Mary Ann Heiman purchased windstorm insurance for her property along the causeway between Aransas Pass and Port Aransas, believing her business was covered when Hurricane Harvey destroyed the property. However, later, when she placed a claim with the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA), she was denied citing an inverted address number. Heiman stands on the concrete platform where the business once stood, on Thursday April 20, 2018, in Port Aransas, TX.(AMANDA VOISARD / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Mary Ann Heiman opened her bait shop on the the causeway that crosses Redfish Bay to Port Aransas in 2011. From the outside, 1950 Hwy 361 was nothing fancy.

“The building was just an old metal building that had sat here since the 1980s,” she said. “It was basically held together with nails and glue and love and duct tape.” The real value of Offshore Adventures was the equipment inside, the tanks and freezers Heiman needed to hold the crabs, shrimp, mud minnows and mullet that anglers bought in their pursuit of the Texas coast’s rich lode of redfish, trout and drum.

A resident of the area on and off since her 1950s childhood there, Heiman knew the wild weather that occasionally swept in from the Gulf and the havoc it could leave behind. Last July she purchased a policy from the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association to cover $60,000-worth of business personal property inside 1590 Hwy. 361 from high wind damage. It cost $679.

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Heiman’s timing couldn’t have been better. Hurricane Harvey barreled into Port Aransas a month later, on the evening of August 25, packing 130 mph winds and driving rain.

When Heiman was allowed back into the area a few days later, her bait shop had disappeared, the splintered debris of her livelihood hurled inland by the Category 4 winds. A group of wooden pylons roughly representing the outline of the shop poked out of the sand like a mouthful of broken teeth.

PHOTOS: Port Aransas recovery, seven months later

It was only after the adjuster for the windstorm insurance association went out to the site and agreed the record winds had destroyed her bait shop that it was discovered Heiman’s insurance agent had accidentally transposed two of the numbers in Offshore Adventures’ street address. In letters and phone calls, he asked TWIA to correct the typo so Heiman could collect her due and rebuild the business.

The association refused. Heiman’s policy for 1590 Hwy 361 did not cover 1950 Hwy 361, representatives explained. Her claim for the money she needed to restart her bait shop was stamped “denied.”

For more on Heiman’s dilemma, and how the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association has served consumers since Hurricane Harvey, visit MyStatesman.com

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Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, gives birth to baby boy

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 1:16 PM
Updated: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 1:16 PM

Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, Gives Birth to Royal Baby

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, formerly known as Kate Middleton, has given birth to a baby boy, Kensington Palace tweeted Monday

Third Child Coming for Prince William, Kate Middleton

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Florida judge does not return to courtroom after berating frail inmate who died 3 days later

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 3:15 PM

Florida Judge Berates Frail Inmate Who Dies Three Days Later, Does Not Return To Courtroom

A Florida judge who berated a frail inmate who died three days later will not return to the bench, court officials said. 

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Circuit Court Judge Merrilee Ehrlich will not return to the bench after her treatment of Sandra Twiggs, 59, who appeared before her last week on a misdemeanor domestic violence charge, Broward Chief Administrative Judge Jack Tuter said Saturday, according to WFOR.

“In light of recent events we have decided Judge Ehrlich will be told not to return to the courthouse as her retirement is effective June 30,” Tuter said, according to The Associated Press. “I will be working this weekend to find a substitute to cover Judge Ehrlich’s (family court) division.”

During the first appearance, Twiggs, who was in a wheelchair, explained to Ehrlich that she suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and needed breathing treatments, according to WFOR

First appearance hearings are streamed online and recorded.

“Ma’am, don’t even say yes. Just listen,” Ehrlich said. “I’m not here to talk about your breathing treatments.”

Ehrlich released Twiggs without bond. Twiggs died Wednesday in her sleep.

“When she came home from being in there she was never the same,” Carolyn Porter, Twiggs’ goddaughter, told WFOR.

Ehrlich who was first elected in 2008 planned to retire June 30. She filed her retirement paperwork two weeks prior to this incident. 

Tuter said he would be calling Twiggs’ family to apologize. 

“I am saddened and disappointed in the way Judge Ehrlich behaved on the video. Her behavior cannot be condoned,” he said.

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