Amtrak Passenger Train Derails Near Mendon, Missouri
The MSHP identified the victims on Wednesday afternoon:
Rochelle Cook, 58, De Soto, Kan.
Kim Holsapple, 56, De Soto, Kan.
Bing Pham, 82, Kansas City
Bill Barton, II, 54, Brookfield
An Amtrak passenger train has reportedly derailed in Chariton County near Mendon, Mo.
According to a statement from Amtrak, several cars derailed on "Southwest Chief Train 4" traveling from Los Angeles to Chicago on Monday afternoon after striking a dump truck at a public crossing near Mendon at 12:42 p.m.
There were approximately 243 passengers and 12 crew members on board the train with early reports of injuries. First responders began arriving at 1:03 p.m.
"Local authorities are currently assisting customers and we have deployed Amtrak resources to assist. Additional details will be provided as available," Amtrak said.
Mendon is located just east of the Swan Lake National Wildlife refuge, and southwest of Marceline, Mo., or about 60 miles north of Sedalia.
Monday's derailment marks the second consecutive day that an Amtrak train was involved in a serious crash, according to NBC News.
Three people were killed and two others injured after an Amtrak train crashed into a vehicle obstructing rail tracks near Brentwood, California, on Sunday, officials said.
Gov. Mike Parson issued a statement on Monday afternoon, saying:
We are saddened to hear of the Amtrak train derailment in Chariton County this afternoon. Missouri Department of Public Safety, Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers, and other emergency management personnel are responding. We ask Missourians to join us in praying for all those impacted.
A social media post shows several Amtrak cars on their side, with passengers standing on the side of the cars, assisting others, next to a corn field. Some patients were airlifted to area hospitals for treatment of injuries.
One passenger posted that the train was headed north to Iowa.
A KMBC-9 newschopper was flying overhead with footage shown on YouTube.
The footage showed rescue crews with ladders propped up against the overturned Amtrak cars in a rural area. There were eight cars and two locomotives in total.
The crash obliterated the dump truck, and one of the truck's axles could be seen in one photo.
Over a half dozen helicopters that appeared to be air ambulances, landed in a nearby field where the accident occurred. MU in Columbia has accepted several patients.
There were four fatalities and about 150 people injured in the incident. Injuries ranged from minor to serious, according to the MSHP. The name of the truck driver has not been released.
Two Boy Scout Troops from Wisconsin sprang into action immediately after the crash, helping passengers off the the train, which was on its side at that point. They also reportedly tried to save the life of the dump truck driver.
If you have loved ones on the train, you may call 1-800-523-9101.
Cpl. Justin Dunn, Troop B PIO, said in a news conference that the accident happened at an uncontrolled railroad crossing on Porsche Prairie Avenue, just southwest of Mendon. Seven cars derailed, including a baggage car. The approach to the double set of RR tracks is a gravel road.
There were four fatalities, including the driver of the dump truck.
Survivors were transported to a nearby high school.
The NTSB said the train traveling 87 miles per hour at the time of the crash.
Multiple agencies responded to the scene, Dunn said. The National Transportation and Safety Board arrived on scene Tuesday around 8:30 a.m. with 16 people. The investigation will include reviewing forward facing video footage from aboard the train.
The NTSB said that there are about 130,000 uncontrolled crossings in the US, and around 3500 in Missouri. The cost to improve the crossing at Mendon would be around $400,000. That crossing is located on a county road.
One area resident, Mike Spencer, said that close to 85 trains come through the area every day.
Passengers included 16 youths and eight adults from two Boy Scout troops who were traveling home to Appleton, Wisconsin, after a backcountry excursion at the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. No one in the group was seriously injured, said Scott Armstrong, director of national media relations for the Boy Scouts of America. The Scouts administered first aid to several injured passengers, including the driver of the dump truck, Armstrong said.
High school students from Pleasant Ridge High School in Easton, Kansas, who were headed to a Future Business Leaders of America conference in Chicago, were also aboard, Superintendent Tim Beying told The Kansas City Star.
Cheryl Benjamin was on her way home to East Lansing, Michigan, after an Alasksan cruise and a trip to Disneyland. She said she felt a bump, then heard a squeal, then looked out the window and saw the cars in front of her falling to the right. Then her car fell, the last to derail. It all took about 45 seconds.
Benjamin told The Associated Press that the passengers organized themselves to escape the cars. Some of the Boy Scouts on board helped her climb out of the train and onto the ground. She was spending Monday evening in a local high school gym, where community members had brought in food for the passengers as they waited for buses to take them to hotels.
Republican state Rep. Peggy McGaugh was at the high school. She said locals heard about the crash and started frying chicken, making sandwiches and delivering pallets of water.
“Being the small community this is, nobody wants to be the hero but everyone wants to help," McGaugh said.
Mike Spencer, who grows corn and soybeans on the land surrounding the intersection where the crash occurred, said everyone in Mendon understands that the intersection is dangerous, especially for those driving heavy, slow farm equipment. The approach to the tracks is on an inclining gravel road and it’s difficult to see trains coming in either direction, he said.
Spencer said he had contacted state transportation officials, Chariton County commissioners and BNSF Railway, which owns the track, about the potential danger. Spencer, who is on the board of a local levy district, said the dump truck driver was hauling rock for a levy on a local creek, a project that had been ongoing for a couple days.
Amtrak is a federally supported company that operates more than 300 passenger trains daily in nearly every contiguous U.S. state and parts of Canada.
The Southwest Chief takes about two days to travel from Los Angeles to Chicago, picking up passengers at stops in between. Mendon, with a population of about 160, is about 84 miles (135 kilometers) northeast of Kansas City.
MoDOT's 2022 State Freight and Rail plan, which was released in February, listed the intersection at County Road 113 and Porsche Prairie Road, where the fatal crash occurred, for installation of lights, gates, and other roadway improvements at the crossing, which is now a gravel road.
The NTSB said that Billy Barton II was driving a truck hauling large pieces of rock from a quarry to a levee for a US Army Corps of Engineers project, when it was struck by the Amtrak. His widow has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a BNSF supervisor as well as Chariton County.