Rock Slide Derails Amtrak Train in ‘Freak of Nature,' Leaving at Least 7 Hurt

At least seven people were hurt, one seriously, when an Amtrak train derailed after hitting fallen rocks in Vermont, officials said.

Emergency crews responded to the derailment in Northfield, near the capital, Montpelier. Pictures from the scene showed train cars fallen off the track or hanging from the track's embankment.

"This was a freak of nature," Gov. Peter Shumlin said at a news conference Monday afternoon, where officials said rocks from a ledge fell onto the tracks.

One locomotive and one passenger car went over an embankment, and three other cars left the track but remained upright.

One of the injured was airlifted to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire, officials said. Six others went to Central Vermont Medical Center with injuries including neck, back and shoulder pain and lightheadedness.

There were reportedly 98 passengers on the train. At least several dozen were loaded onto school buses to be taken to an armory at nearby Norwich University.

The Vermonter's 13-hour, 45-minute daily trip begins in St. Albans in northern Vermont. The route passes through cities including Burlington, Vermont, Springfield, Massachusetts, and New York, with D.C. as the final destination.

Vermont Train Derailment

NBC affiliate WPTZ-TV said first responders said several cars of an Amtrak train derailed in the area of Route 12A and Bull Run Road in Northfield around 10:30 a.m. Monday.

Montpelier Fire Chief Robert Gowans told necn that there were no fatalities, but several people were transported to the hospital. Several other "walking wounded" are also being evaluated, he said.

Rodger and Cathy Bell, from Windsor, Colorado, were in the midst of a Vacation by Rail trip, enjoying New England in the fall, when they said "all hell broke loose."

The Bells said they boarded the Vermonter at Middlebury and sat in the third car, two behind the engine.

"It was a wonderful smooth trip," Rodger Bell said. "And then we felt something hitting the train, which wasn't normal, and then all hell broke loose."

Bell said the engineer braked really fast, "but it was too late."

"We got tossed around a bit," he said, and he saw a set of wheels roll by his window before his car flew across the tracks and up a small embankment before coming to a halt. The engine tumbled down a creek bed, he said.

The Federal Railroad Administration said in a tweet it is aware of the derailment and is sending investigators to the site.

State officials have partially activated an emergency management center. A representative said a full upgrade would be possible, if necessary.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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