Watch CBS News

At least 4 dead, dozens injured after Amtrak train derails in Missouri

Death toll rises in Missouri Amtrak derailment
Death toll rises in Missouri Amtrak derailment 00:19

At least four people were killed Monday after an Amtrak train hit a dump truck and derailed in Missouri, officials said. It's not yet clear how many were injured, though ten hospitals received patients. 

Officials said Southwest Chief Train 4, which was carrying 275 passengers and 12 crew members from Los Angeles to Chicago, hit a truck near Mendon, Missouri, at approximately 12:43 p.m. local time. Seven of the train's eight cars derailed, Missouri State Highway Patrol Corporal Justin Dunn said at a press conference. 

Three of the victims were on the train and another was in the truck.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol identified the truck driver Wednesday as Billy Barton II, a 53-year-old from Brookfield, Missouri. The other three victims were identified as Rochelle Cook, 57, of Desoto, Kansas; Kim Holsapple, 56, of Desoto, Kansas; and Binh Phan, 82, of Kansas City, Missouri. Barton, Cook and Holsapple were pronounced dead at the scene, and Phan died later the same day at University Hospital in Columbia, Missouri. 

All three of the victims were passengers on the train, the highway patrol said. 

A photo of the derailed Amtrak train in Missouri.  Ron Goulet

During a news conference on Wednesday afternoon, National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy said the train was traveling at 87 mph at the time of the crash, just below the 90 mph speed limit. 

She also said that no passengers were ejected from the train in the collision. 

On Tuesday, Homendy disclosed that the truck, owned by MS Contracting LLC, based out of Brookfield, Missouri, was transporting aggregate to an Army Corps of Engineers project when it collided with the train.

"The train struck the back part of the truck, and then the train derailed," Homendy said. "The train consisted of two locomotives, six coach cars, a cafe car and a baggage car."

Homendy did not provide any updates on the number of fatalities or injuries, although Missouri State Highway Patrol reported earlier in the day that at least four people were killed and about 150 were injured and transported to 10 different hospitals in the region.

She noted that 16 NTSB investigators were on scene to try and determine the cause. The investigators will download the train's event recorder, which will give them the speed of the train at the time of the crash. The speed limit for the area was 90 mph. The train had two forward facing cameras and the dump truck also had an electronic control module that will be examined, Homendy said.

The collision occurred at a "passive grade crossing," meaning it had only a stop sign and crossbucks, but no arms, warning lights or bells, which would have designated it as an active crossing, according to Homendy.

She said the NTSB has been recommending "for a number of years" that passive crossings be either converted to active ones, closed or consolidated. She also pointed out a 1998 NTSB study which recommended that vehicles have technology that would alert drivers to trains in the area.

"Any time our recommendations aren't heeded, of course I'm upset," Homendy said. "Because we see tragedy after tragedy after tragedy, and numerous fatalities and injuries. And we know, and it's very frustrating for our investigators, when they're on scene, and they know what would have prevented this."

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg tweeted that he's "saddened by the tragic loss of life and injuries," adding that his team is working with Amtrak and authorities to provide support. 

Amtrak said Monday night that it was "deeply saddened" to learn of the deaths, adding that it's cooperating with local authorities. 

A passenger on the train, Ron Goulet, told CBS News he was watching traffic on a side road from the train window when he felt the impact. 

"The car lurched forward and then in no time, in that slow motion situation, the car was turning on its side," Goulet said. "People were flying in all directions. Baggage. People. It was terrible."

Goulet said he left the train through windows that were pointed toward the sky after the car rolled over.

"It was just a surreal situation," he said. 

Two Boy Scouts of America troops totaling 16 scouts and eight adults were on the train returning from a wilderness retreat in New Mexico, according to a spokesperson for the organization. All of them suffered minor injuries, and two leaders were taken to hospitals with non-life threatening injuries, the spokesperson said.

A 15-year-old scout found the driver of the dump truck that had been struck and rendered aid until the driver died, the spokesperson said. 

Mendon is about two hours northeast of Kansas City. University of Missouri Health Care, a hospital in Columbia, Missouri, said it is caring for 16 patients from the derailment. University Health in Kansas City, a Level 1 Trauma Center able to handle severe injuries, said it has received one person who was transported by helicopter. 

Photographs and videos appeared to show multiple cars turned on their side with passengers sitting on top, and another video appeared to show passengers comforting each other from the inside of an overturned train car. 

Congressman Sam Graves, who represents Mendon, said he's "closely monitoring" the derailment.

Missouri Governor Mike Parson said he's "saddened" to hear of the derailment, adding that "Missouri Department of Public Safety, Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers, and other emergency management personnel are responding." 

Faris Tanyos contributed reporting.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.