BENKELMAN, Neb. (AP/CBS4) – An Amtrak train carrying more than 175 passengers from California to Chicago derailed Friday after striking equipment on the tracks in southwest Nebraska and at least seven people were taken to hospitals, a spokesman said.
Two locomotives tipped on their sides and three of the California Zephyr’s 10 passenger cars left the tracks about 8 a.m. near Benkelman, near the state’s borders with Kansas and Colorado, said Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari.
Magliari couldn’t immediately confirm the exact number of injuries but said none was believed to be life-threatening.
Watch video from Copter4 taken after the derailment below.
Passenger Harvey Evans, 37, of Grand Island, Neb., said it appeared that the train struck a crane that was doing demolition on a nearby grain silo.
“All of a sudden I hear brakes. (The) train’s rolling, rocking, moving side to side,” said Evans, who grabbed a chair to steady himself. “All of a sudden we stopped.”
It’s “been a long, rough trip,” said Evans, in part because the train traveling to Chicago from Emeryville, Calif., across the bay from San Francisco, already was running about eight hours behind schedule after hitting an abandoned car on the tracks Wednesday night near Salt Lake City.
“It’s been one thing after another,” Evans said.
Dundy County Hospital spokeswoman Sandy Noffsinger said seven patients were being treated there for non-life-threatening injuries.
Amtrak said passengers who weren’t taken to hospitals rode school buses to a high school gym in Benkelman, where Dundy County-Stratton Public Schools secretary Stacey Waters said volunteers were providing food and water.
Amtrak was renting private buses so the passengers could resume their journeys east, Magliari said.
It was unclear why the equipment was near or on the tracks and how fast the train was going through the relatively unpopulated stretch of southwest Nebraska, but the accident was being investigated.
Messages seeking comment were left for Dundy County emergency management and law enforcement officials.
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