On December 18, 2017, Amtrak Cascades passenger train 501, enroute from Seattle to Portland, derailed near DuPont, Washington. There were 13 train cars with over 80 passengers involved. The train was approaching a bridge over Interstate 5 and the locomotive went over the bridge and hit some of the vehicles on the highway. One of the train cars was dangling from the bridge. It was the inaugural run on the Point Defiance Bypass. This was a new passenger route between Washington and Portland intended to reduce congestion and separate passenger and freight traffic.
RRT on the scene at Amtrak crash site
This tragedy resulted in the loss of three lives, scores of critical injuries, and the closure of the main Interstate 5 Highway on the West Coast. Interstate 5 Southbound remained closed until December 20 when two southbound lanes were opened with a reduced speed limit to continue investigation and clean-up. The highway was reopened the morning of December 21 with all four lanes available for traffic. Hundreds of first responders and rescue personnel were dispatched to the scene, including Military and National Guard resources, as well as heavy equipment and cranes needed to remove the derailed train cars off the highway.
Serving rescue workers at the crash scene
Working in the pouring rain
The Rapid Relief Teams from both Portland and Seattle partnered together to provide some relief to the responders working in the pouring rain to secure the scene and clear the roadway. RRT Volunteers assembled tents and chairs on site and supplied hot coffee, cold water, and refreshments to provide a level of comfort under the circumstances.
Refreshments for those working at the crash scene
The RRT volunteers were grateful for the opportunity to meet and serve the first responders, many of whom were called on to serve outside of their normal hours of duty.
Wrecked train cars being transported from the accident sight