At least seven people were injured in an accident that involved an Amtrak train derailing Monday morning near the Vermont capital, Montpelier. Of the wounded, one crew member suffered serious injuries, and two crew members and four passengers suffered non-life-threatening injuries, Michael Booth, Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) spokesman, said.
As reported by USA Today, Booth said, “FRA will conduct a full investigation to confirm the official cause of the accident.” Four investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board were also sent to the scene, spokesman Eric Weiss said.
One of the injured people was airlifted to the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire. Six others were transported to the emergency room after the derailment. Judy Tartaglia, CEO of Central Vermont Medical Center, said the patients sustained non life-threatening injuries. These include injuries to the neck, back and shoulder pain, lightheadedness and a wrist injury.
Those who did not need hospitalization were transported to Norwich University. Passengers were offered food, internet connection and phone charging stations at a gym on the campus.
Rocks had dropped from a ledge onto the tracks, officials said at a news conference on Monday. Vermont governor, Peter Shumlin, said while this portion of the track was recently built, rockslides are not uncommon.
“There is no reason to believe there was any negligence on anyone’s part,” Shumlin said. “This was a freak of nature.” Richard C. Beall, a railroad safety consultant, said that it is “definitely a possibility” that the train operator noticed the rockslide and slowed the speed of the train, which otherwise could have caused more injuries. “Any time you end up with bumps and bruises rather than catastrophic injuries or death, you’ve got to thank your lucky stars,” he said.
Malone Bridget Davis, a passenger on the train, said that he felt an impact as the braked hard before the accident, as reported by the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus. Davis was travelling to Springfield, Mass., to get a connecting train to Boston. Janice Bradley, another passenger, said the train was “going along and at first it felt like we ran over something.”
In a statement, Amtrak said that Train 55, also called as the Vermonter, “was traveling from St. Albans, Vt., to Washington, D.C., when it partially derailed,” as reported by the Boston Globe. The 13-hour, 45-minute daily trip starts at St. Albans in northern Vermont, and passes through Burlington, Vermont, Springfield, Massachusetts, and New York before making its arrival in D.C.
The train service provided a hotline number – 800-523-9101 – where friends and families could contact regarding passengers. Matthew Lehner, a spokesman for the FRA, said the agency was aware of the accident and investigators were dispatched to the scene.
In May, an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia, leaving eight people dead and injuring in excess of 200. While the cause of the accident remains unknown, Brandon Bostian, the engineer on the train, was cleared of using his phone just before the accident. He suffered a head injury.
Another derailment occurred a couple of miles from a station in Portland, Maine, in April; officials said that none of the passengers or crew had sustained injuries.
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