Tragedy struck Philadelphia on Tuesday night as an Amtrak train derailed in the city’s Port Richmond section. Train 188, a Northeast Regional, left Washington, D.C., and was headed to New York when it derailed shortly after 9 p.m. Tuesday. Amtrak reported that the train was carrying 238 passengers and five crew members.
The train crash has claimed the lives of at least seven passengers thus far and injured hundreds more. More than 200 people have been treated at local hospitals. Authorities report though that several other passengers remain unaccounted for at present, including Rachel Jacobs, CEO of Philadelphia technology company ApprenNet.
Mayor Michael Nutter, who confirmed the deaths, said the scene was horrific. “It is an absolute disastrous mess,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.” He said all seven train cars, including the engine, were in “various stages of disarray.” He said some cars were “completely overturned, on their side, ripped apart.”
Amtrak initially said the cause of the derailment was not known and that it was investigating. “It’s a devastating scene. There are many first responders out there. They are working. They are examining the equipment, seeing if there are any more people in the rail cars,” Robert Sumwalt of the National Transportation Safety Board said.
NTSB officials reportedly recovered the train’s “black box” earlier today, and reports are now coming out that the train was traveling more than 100 mph at the time of the crash. That is roughly double the speed that the train should have been operating in the area where the crash occurred.
While there are still plenty of questions surrounding this tragic accident, one thing that is crystal clear is the heroic manner in which Philadelphia’s
- police officers,
- firemen, and
- emergency medical professionals responded to the call of duty.
The swift and courageous action of Philadelphia’s first responders saved lives and limited the potential devastation. They have given a new, and appropriate, meaning to Philadelphia’s moniker as The City of Brotherly Love.
If the preliminary reports are proven true and the train was being operated at a speed of more than 100 mph, Amtrak will have to answer to the hundreds of victims and their families in court. This crash appears, as of now, to have been entirely preventable. To the families that lost loved ones in this tragic train crash, this will be of little solace.