Philly mayor describes historic train crash, search for passengers
WASHINGTON - The death toll from Tuesday night's train derailment in Philadelphia has climbed to seven after searchers pulled a body from the wreckage, Mayor Michael Nutter confirmed.
Two of those killed have been identified as a Naval Academy midshipman from New York and an Associated Press employee.
More than 200 others were taken to hospitals including eight who were critically injured.
Approximately 243 people were believed to have been onboard the train heading from D.C. to New York when the engine and seven cars came off the tracks along a curve about 9 p.m. Tuesday.
"To see it in the daytime, is almost indescribable. It is painful. It is amazing. It is incredible that so many people walked away from that scene...I don't know how that happened but for the grace of God," Nutter said.
He said his city has suffered a tragedy and called the derailment an unusual event.
"I don't believe that anyone sitting here, standing here today has any memory of a derailment of this kind in 50 years."
Nutter said the focus Wednesday was on the search for anyone who may still be on the train or anyone who may have been thrown from the train. He said crews will search every inch of every train to locate passengers.
The search area was expanded and police dogs were brought in to help locate passengers, Nutter said.
Emergency officials ask that anyone who was on board and who walked away safely to call Amtrak's hotline in order to verify that all passengers have been accounted for.
City officials would not say how many passengers remain unaccounted for.
Nutter said the train's engineer, not the conductor as previously stated, was injured, but survived. The engineer gave a statement to city police after he was treated.
However the Associated Press is reporting that the engineer refused to give a statement and left the police station with his lawyer.
Twenty-three people, including the eight critically injured passengers, remained at Temple University Hospital Wednesday. They are all expected to survive, says chief medical officer Dr. Herb Cushing.
Most of the injuries treated were rib fractures. Some patients also suffered collapsed, partially collapsed or bruised lungs as a result of the broken ribs, Cushing says.
Few patients suffered head injuries, which Cushing says surprised him. He was also amazed that more passengers were killed.
At least one of the injured passengers was 80 and several were in their early 20s. Passengers hailed from all over the world including Spain, Belgium, India and Albania, Cushing says.
Robert Sumwalt, of the National Transportation Safety Board, says that investigators are still looking to see whether anyone is in the cars, while they continue looking into why the train derailed. He said that the recorders, similar to the black boxes on jets, had been found and were being analyzed in Delaware. Nutter added that the train had a front-facing video camera, and footage would be analyzed as well.
Amtrak board member Robert Coscia said everyone at the rail company was "deeply saddened by the loss of life."
The accident has closed the nation’s busiest rail corridor between New York and Washington as federal investigators begin sifting through the twisted remains to determine what went wrong.
Train 188 had departed from Washington, D.C., at about 7 p.m. Tuesday.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Comments by a former top U.S. transportation official in the aftermath of a fatal crash of an Amtrak train in Philadelphia have rekindled a debate: Would train passengers be safer if they were required to wear seat belts?
Ray LaHood, who was transportation secretary from 2009 to 2013, said Wednesday that the National Transportation Safety Board should consider seat belts when it conducts its investigation into the crash and formulates its recommendations.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Amtrak train that crashed in Philadelphia, killing at least seven people, was hurtling at 106 mph before it ran off the rails along a sharp curve where the speed limit drops to just 50 mph, federal investigators said Wednesday.
The engineer applied the emergency brakes moments before the crash but slowed the train to only 102 mph by the time the locomotive’s black box stopped recording data, said Robert Sumwalt, of the National Transportation Safety Board. The speed limit just before the bend is 80 mph, he said.
The engineer, whose name was not released, refused to give a statement to law enforcement and left a police precinct with a lawyer, police said. Sumwalt said federal accident investigators want to talk to him but will give him a day or two to recover from the shock of the accident.
Mayor Michael Nutter said there was “no way in the world” the engineer should have been going that fast into the curve.
“Clearly he was reckless and irresponsible in his actions,” Nutter told CNN. “I don’t know what was going on with him, I don’t know what was going on in the cab, but there’s really no excuse that could be offered.”
More than 200 people aboard the Washington-to-New York train were injured in the wreck, which happened in a decayed industrial neighborhood not far from the Delaware River just before 9:30 p.m. Tuesday. Passengers crawled out the windows of the torn and toppled rail cars in the darkness and emerged dazed and bloody, many of them with broken bones and burns.
It was the nation’s deadliest train accident in nearly seven years.
Amtrak suspended all service until further notice along the Philadelphia-to-New York stretch of the nation’s busiest rail corridor as investigators examined the wreckage and the tracks and gathered evidence. The shutdown snarled the commute and forced thousands of people to find other ways to reach their destinations.
The dead included an Associated Press employee, a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy, a Wells Fargo executive and a CEO of an educational startup. At least 10 people remained hospitalized in critical condition.
Nutter said some people were unaccounted for but cautioned that some passengers listed on the Amtrak manifest might not have boarded the train, while others might not have checked in with authorities.
“We will not cease our efforts until we go through every vehicle,” the mayor said.
He said rescuers expanded the search area and were using dogs to look for victims in case someone was thrown from the wreckage.
The NTSB finding about the train’s speed corroborated an AP analysis done earlier in the day of surveillance video from a spot along the tracks. The AP concluded from the footage that the train was speeding at approximately 107 mph moments before it entered the curve.