Coast Starlight train off the tracks, nine injured

WEED, Calif. - Five cars on Amtrak's Coast Starlight passenger train derailed early Thursday, injuring nine people, after it apparently clipped a freight car that had fallen off a nearby track.

''The southbound Coast Starlight struck a derailed tank car north of Dunsmuir,'' said Brenda Follmer, an Amtrak spokeswoman in Washington, D.C. ''We understand that two engines and three cars derailed.''

Amtrak said the Central Oregon & Pacific Railroad freight train had derailed from an intersecting track minutes before it was struck by the Amtrak train. A Central Oregon & Pacific spokesman said the accident was under investigation, and no further information was available.

Two Amtrak employees and seven passengers were injured, according to Amtrak. The passengers were treated for minor injuries and released.

Follmer said early reports indicated the most seriously injured person was the train's engineer, who may have suffered cracked ribs. There were 134 passengers and 19 crew members on board. The train is authorized to travel at 50 mph. at that location.

Rita Schrank of Junction City, Ore., was asleep when the accident occurred.

''I felt a series of bumps,'' she said. ''I felt like one, two, three, four and then it felt like it was going to go over.''

John Pierre of Edmonds, Wash., was en route to Oakland. He also feared his car was going to fall.

''The first I thought was it was going to go over,'' he said. ''It was a hell of a jolt.''

Follmer said five cars of the 16-car train left the tracks. Both engines were on their sides, while a baggage car, a crew dorm car and a passenger car derailed but did not fall over.

The passengers were bused south to Redding, where they boarded another Amtrak train at 11:48 a.m. to continue the trip. The train was traveling from Seattle to Los Angeles. Amtrak said there may be delays Thursday as trains take an alternative route around the accident.

The accident occurred just before 2 a.m. in the Cascade Mountains near Weed, 10 miles north of Mount Shasta in Siskiyou County.


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