The seven cars and locomotive comprising Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188 derailed at a turn on the tracks and rolled onto its side at approximately 9 p.m., May 12. Five immediate deaths were accounted for with two more confirmed after two patients died Wednesday morning from injuries sustained from the accident, additionally an eighth body was found May 14 in the wreckage. New information recovered from both security camera footage as well as the recovered black box from the wreck revealed that the train was traveling at more than twice the 50 mile per hour speed limit running at 106 miles per hour as it approached the curve. According to the National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation the train’s engineer slammed on the emergency brakes right before it careened off of the tracks.
Victims from the crash were taken to Philadelphia area hospitals including Temple University Hospital, Aria Health-Frankford, Hahnemann University Hospital and the Albert Einstein Medical Center. Over 140 passengers suffered bodily harm and are being treated, ranging from minor to severe injuries. In a briefing chief medical officer of Temple University hospital Dr. Herbert Cushing stated that eight patients from the wreck currently remain in critical condition and 25 have been released.
Train 188 was headed from Washington D.C. to New York carrying 238 passengers and five crew members when it derailed, rolling off of the tracks around the 2000 block of Wheatsheaf Lane at Frankford Junction. There was no Positive Train Control system installed at Frankford Junction which would have automatically limited the train’s speed approaching the curve.
Officials have commented that they do not believe the incident was an act of terror but rather an accident. However, the National Transportation Safety Board deployed a team to look into the derailment and arrived on the scene early Wednesday morning.
Mayor Nutter spoke on the accident in a news conference saying, “I have never seen anything like [this accident] in my life. Many of these folks are not from Philadelphia.” He made no comment on the cause of the accident.
“We do not know what happened here,” Nutter said. “We’re not going to try to speculate about that.”
Nutter also referred to the incident as a “Level 3 mass casualty event,” speaking to the overwhelming amount of medical help the passengers from this accident required.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf appeared with Mayor Nutter in a subsequent press conference around 1 a.m. saying that his thoughts and prayers were with the victims of the crash and all of those who the crash affected.
Service has been suspended between New York and Philadelphia in Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor until further notice. SEPTA service on the Trenton Regional Rail has also been suspended due to the accident and according to officials is likely to be suspended May 13 through the remainder of the work week.
Service on the Chestnut Hill West Regional Line was restored just after 5 a.m. on May 13 but passengers should expect delays.
Passengers looking for alternate routes are encouraged to use the West Trenton line as additional cars have been added to trains in order to accommodate those looking for alternate transportation. The Market Frankford Line has also been recommended as a substitution.
This is the second occurrence of a deadly derailment in this area of track, the first of which occurred 71 years ago on September 6, 1943 where the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Congressional Limited toppled off of the tracks with 541 passengers, killing 79 and injuring 117.
The Triangle will continue to update the story as the issue develops and more information is released.
This article was updated at 1:32 p.m 5/14/15.