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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / One dead, several injured as ‘Empire Builder’ hits tractor and derails in Montana (second update) NEWSWIRE

One dead, several injured as ‘Empire Builder’ hits tractor and derails in Montana (second update) NEWSWIRE

By | May 29, 2020

Four aboard train treated, released at hospital

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One person is reported dead and passengers and crew were injured after the westbound Amtrak Empire Builder hit a John Deere sprayer tractor east of Wolf Point, Mont., shortly before 11 a.m. today. The Billings Gazette reports the accident occurred near Bainville at an ungated grade crossing, and that the operator of the tractor was killed. Initial reports from the Roosevelt County, Mont., emergency planning agency reported multiple cars derailed; Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said in a statement that the train “remained upright as it lost contact with the tracks,” and that there were no reports of life-threatening injuries to the 64 passengers and 10 crew members. One passenger and three crew members were treated and released at a local hospital. Roosevelt County Sheriff Jason Fredericks told the Gazette that all of the passengers onboard sustained injures.

Passengers were taken to Culbertson (Mont.) High School for triage, according to Great Falls TV station KRTV. Magliari said in an email that the passengers remained sheltered there as they await substitute transportation. With the BNSF Railway tracks closed for investigation and repairs, the eastbound Empire Builder that departed Portland and Seattle on Thursday will terminate at Wolf Point, and return to its points of origin with the passengers from the westbound train.

Bainville is about 28 miles west of Williston, N.D. and about five miles west of the Montana/North Dakota state line.

— Updated at 6:15 p.m. on May 29 with information on those treated at a hospital; updated at 8:36 p.m. with revised figure from Amtrak for number of crew members treated.



11 thoughts on “One dead, several injured as ‘Empire Builder’ hits tractor and derails in Montana (second update) NEWSWIRE

  1. I was on US2 today between Williston, ND and Havre, MT. Based on the reported time of the incident it was several hours behind us. That being said, as the day progressed I noticed more and more of the caterpillars type rerailers eastbound on low boy trailers with escorts. Also the EB builder passed us just east of Havre with two BNSF unit on the head end in addition to the normal power.

  2. “lost contact with the tracks” must be a new hire PR person with no railroad experience.

  3. My favorite is “decrease of the rail-wheel interface.” Used that when the rails spread under an SW9 on a curve. Only two wheels went down, though.

  4. Haven’t seen a photo, but “sprayer tractor” is a very large machine, on high tires, with arms that extend outward like a huge prehistoric bird to treat farmland. Folded upward when in transport mode. No match for a train, but big.

  5. On something like this, what is the obligation of Amtrak to get the passengers to their destination? One possibility is that they could cite “force majeur” and then tell you that you are on your own. Also, how do they know that they have got all the passengers out of the train? Do they do a head count based on the passenger manifest?

  6. It’s in their terms and conditions. It would be considered “Any fact not reasonably foreseen, anticipated or predicted by Amtrak.”, and their only obligation would be to refund the unused portion of the ticket. In theory, they could leave you standing in the middle of nowhere, and it would be your problem to get back to civilization. Would they actually do something like that? I would rather not find out.

  7. I am reminded of an incident on the NP about 1969 or so. An eastbound time freight was going into Northtown yard when it went into emergency. The new brakeman examined the derailment and told the engineer (a friend of mind) that “we lost our wheels”! Engineer Dale called to the conductor Frankie that he better come up a take a look. Yep, the train was derailed.Ed Burns

  8. According to the train continued to Spokane. Arriving there 11 hours late. Returning from there at 1.25 last night

  9. The wheels on the “sprayer tractor” described by George Pins below are 8 to 10 feet in diameter. You could drive an automobile beneath it (although I don’t recommend trying that).

  10. If it would have been an SDP40F leading that train, it never would have left the rails.

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