Southbound I-5 to remain closed near Tacoma as crews work to cle - KPTV - FOX 12

Southbound I-5 to remain closed near Tacoma as crews work to clear deadly train derailment

Posted: Updated: Dec 19, 2017 02:43 PM
Train cars removed from scene of deadly derailment south of Tacoma. (KPTV) Train cars removed from scene of deadly derailment south of Tacoma. (KPTV)

As crews work to clear a derailed train from Interstate 5 south of Tacoma, transportation officials said the southbound highway could be closed for several more days.

Southbound I-5 would remain closed through at least Wednesday morning’s commute, according to Washington State Patrol.

Authorities updated the situation Tuesday morning, saying multiple cars had been removed from the scene and were taken to a secure location at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

A Washington State Department of Transportation spokesman called it a “careful, delicate operation” with wind and rain complicating the efforts.

Drivers were advised to avoid the area if possible and expect significant delays on alternate routes around the highway.

One of the three people killed in Monday’s derailment of Amtrak Cascades Train 501, which was heading from Seattle to Portland, was identified by Pierce Transit as Zack Willhoite. Willhoite was an IT customer service support specialist and had been a Pierce Transit employee since 2008. 

"He has always been deeply appreciated and admired by his colleagues, and played an important role at our agency. He will be sincerely missed. Our thoughts are with Zack’s family, as well as the families of the other victims, during this very difficult time," Pierce Transit said. 

Amtrak Cascades 501 was traveling 80 mph in a 30 mph zone Monday before it derailed, National Transportation Safety Board board member T. Bella Dinh-Zarr said, but it was too early to know why the train was going that speed. 

The track the train had been traveling on had just been upgraded as part of a $181 million project for a faster path.

Sound Transit, the public transit system for the Seattle area, owns the track and oversaw construction of the upgrades.

Agency spokeswoman Kimberly Reason said extensive testing was done before the opening of the system Monday.

Amtrak reported 80 passengers and five crew members were on the train when it derailed. There were 12 cars and two engines, with all but one of them coming off the tracks.

Five vehicles and two semis on I-5 were hit by the derailed train.  All three deaths were contained to victims on the train.

A NTSB spokesperson told FOX 12 Tuesday morning that they recovered the data box from the rear locomotive and downloaded it, but they don't have the front engine data box out of the locomotive yet. NTSB hoped to recover that later Tuesday.

Investigators with NTSB will be at the scene for seven to 10 days.

Copyright 2017 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Powered by Frankly
FOX 12
Powered by WorldNow CNN
All content © 2018, KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation, Portland, OR . All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.