Washington state officials release 911 calls from Cascades crash

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DUPONT, Wash. — Audio recordings released this week offer insight into the frantic moments immediately following the Dec. 18 wreck of Amtrak Cascades train No. 501 near Olympia, Wash.

South Sound 911, the local emergency dispatch center, released audio recordings of the 911 calls from Dec. 18 to Trains News Wire and other media outlets on Thursday. The recordings include the first 911 calls from the scene of the derailment that killed three people and injured dozens more as well as communications between first responders.

In the first 911 call to the dispatch center about the crash, a woman driving by on Interstate 5 frantically reported that “a train has fallen off the overpass and landed on vehicles.” The woman estimated that she could see at least a dozen people who had been injured in the wreck. Seconds later, another call came in from someone onboard the train.

“Our train crashed!” the woman cried, as a 911 dispatcher tried to calm her down.

Another woman who was driving on Interstate 5 reported being hit by debris with such force that her airbags deployed. “A huge pile of mud and dirt hit my car and spun me around,” she said.

During the first few minutes of the incident, 911 dispatchers struggled to figure out exactly where the derailment occurred. The dispatchers can be heard trying to calm callers down and asking for information about their specific location.

As the gravity of the situation became clear, 911 dispatchers began to scramble as many first responders as they could. “Just send everything you got,” a dispatcher told a local fire department.

EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this report contained unedited 911 calls from the 501 crash. The published recordings are now condensed to remove personal information. Dec. 29, 2017. 10:49 a.m. Central time.
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