Probe of Train Crash Underway

By: Aisha Greer
By: Aisha Greer

The wreck killed Clara Downs, 68, of Chicago and injured more than 60 other people. According to an emergency official, the injuries range from minor to critical.

A nine car passenger Amtrak train bound for Chicago jumped the tracks and tipped over in a swampy area of the Mississippi delta Tuesday evening. The train carried 68 passengers and 12 crewmembers.

In addition, the accident injured more than sixty other people. Officials say 58 people were treated at area hospitals. Two were critical, while seven were severely injured.

"We are still looking into the cause of this accident," said Marc Magliari, a spokesman for Amtrak.

Meridian's United Blood Services had to respond to the emergency, supplying all of the O positive and negative blood they had stored on the shelves.

"It's a strange twist of fate. This is one of those troubling nightmares. It's those kinds of things that demand we have blood on the shelves in case of an emergency, said Susan Morris of UBS.

The derailment occurred on a section of track where several freight trains have crashed in recent years.

On the same section of track, a train carrying hazardous chemicals derailed in 1997. That crash forced the evacuation of about 4,000 Flora residents.

Three other freight trains have derailed on those tracks within a five-mile stretch in the last 20 years.

Some rescuers at the site of the train wreck were trained in Meridian. Meridian mayor John Robert Smith received a thank you call from Ridgeland Fire Chief Matt Bailey on Wednesday.

"You cannot appreciate unless you've been in one how topsy-turvy the world is inside the rail car when it's upended or on its side," said Smith. "And his staff reported to him that the training they received here was absolutely invaluable."

The chief said the thanks came not only from him, but also from the men who worked the scene of the wreck.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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