Amtrak’s California Zephyr train derails in Neb.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
BENKELMAN, Neb. (AP) — Authorities say at total of 22 people were injured when an Amtrak train derailed after striking a crane on the tracks in southwest Nebraska.
The train carrying 175 passengers and 17 crewmembers from California to Chicago derailed Friday morning near Benkelman, near the state’s borders with Kansas and Colorado.
Dundy County emergency director Elaine Frasier says 20 people on the train, including passengers and crew, were taken to area hospitals. She says two other people not on the train also were injured but didn’t immediately have details about whether they were on the crane or elsewhere on the tracks.
Frasier says none of the injuries was critical and included back and neck injuries.
Other passengers were taken to a nearby high school and were to be bused to their destinations.
Two locomotives tipped on their sides and three of the California Zephyr’s 10 passenger cars left the tracks about 8 a.m. near Benkelman, near the state’s borders with Kansas and Colorado, said Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari.
Magliari couldn’t immediately confirm the exact number of injuries but said none was believed to be life-threatening.
Passenger Harvey Evans, 37, of Grand Island, Neb., said it appeared the train struck a crane that was doing demolition on a nearby grain silo.
“All of a sudden I hear brakes. (The) train’s rolling, rocking, moving side to side,” said Evans, who grabbed a chair to steady himself. “All of a sudden we stopped.”
It’s “been a long, rough trip,” said Evans, in part because the train traveling to Chicago from Emeryville, Calif., across the bay from San Francisco, already was running about eight hours behind schedule after hitting an abandoned car on the tracks Wednesday night near Salt Lake City.
“It’s been one thing after another,” Evans said.
It was unclear why the equipment was near or on the tracks and how fast the train was going through the relatively unpopulated stretch of southwest Nebraska, but the accident was being investigated.