Amtrak Regional 188, carrying 238 passengers, derailed in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia Tuesday night, May 12th. The derailment accident triggered a four-alarm response which included 120 firefighters and 200 police officers. At this time, at least seven people are confirmed dead, and more than 200 are injured. Of the injured, eight are in critical condition. Fifty-four of those hospitalized have already been treated and released.
The victims were taken to a number of area hospitals including Temple University Hospital, Jefferson University Hospital, Albert Einstein Medical Center, Hahnemann University Hospital and Aria Health-Frankford. Five crewmembers were also on the Amtrak which was headed from New York to Washington D.C. According to reports, six passenger cars and an engine came off the tracks on the 2000 block of Wheatsheaf Lane, near Frankford Junction. An emergency response area was established at Castor and Frankford.
City, State, and Federal Officials Weigh In, Send Condolences
Philadelphia Mayor, Michael Nutter, deemed the accident an “absolute disastrous mess.” Nutter stated the incident was a Level 3 mass casualty event and declined to speculate on the cause of the derailment. Governor Tom Wolf spoke with Mayor Nutter during a press conference held shortly after 1:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning. Wolf stated that his thoughts and prayers were with the victims of the crash and their families. Jesse Wilson, Philadelphia Fire Department Deputy Commissioner, said he had never seen anything so devastating and that the train cars were “completely, completely,” derailed from the track. Wilson also stated that the aluminum shell of the train cars was completely destroyed.
Vice President Joe Biden also expressed his shock and sorrow at last night’s tragic Philadelphia train accident. Throughout his political career, VP Biden reminisced that he had taken some 8,000 Amtrak trips to and from Washington. President Obama said that he and the first lady were “shocked and deeply saddened” to hear of the derailment.
Derailment Sounded Like “a Bunch of Shopping Carts Crashing into Each Other.”
Several passengers, as well as those who were in the area of the derailment, spoke to news crews about the accident. Daniel Hernandez, who lives close to the tracks, said the derailment sounded like shopping carts crashing into each other from inside his home. Soon after, Hernandez heard the sounds of screaming and chaos. Michael Black, a passenger on Amtrak Regional 188, was in the third from the last car. Black said it felt like his car began slowly going over on its side. A producer for NBC Nightly News, Janelle Richards, was on the derailed train. Richards heard a loud crash, saw people flying up in the air, then says she felt lots of “jerking back and forth,” and saw smoke.
A former Congressman from Pennsylvania was in the café car when the train crashed. Also an Iraq War veteran, Patrick Murphy, says the train “wobbled” before it left the tracks. Murphy and others in the café car kicked out the window and helped those inside get out of the car. A nineteen-year old man, Max Helfman, was on the last car of the train with his mother. Helfman said the train began to shake, then his car flipped over, throwing people to the ground and sending suitcases and chairs crashing. Helfman saw smoke, and fearing the car could catch on fire, he and others helped those in their car squeeze out through a door which was partially open.
Was Train Derailment an Act of Terror?
At this juncture officials do not believe the accident was an act of terror, but rather was an accident. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the derailment, and has found the train’s black box. The seven-member crew of investigators will be looking at the track, the train signals, human performance, and the mechanical condition of the train as possible causes of the derailment. Amtrak Northeast Corridor service between New York and Philadelphia is suspended until further notice. Amtrak officials have said that preliminary data showed that the Amtrak train was traveling more than 100 mph when it derailed. This was roughly twice the speed limit.
Contact Our Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers
At McLaughlin & Lauricella, P.C., our thoughts are with the victims of this tragic train accident and we offer our most sincere condolences to the families who have suffered the loss of a loved one in last night’s horrific train accident. We have already been retained to represent one of the many victims of this tragedy, and we have begun our own investigation into this horrific disaster.