Wisner Baum represent clients from the Amtrak Derailment in Mendon, MO. Our firm has decades of experience fighting for clients in cases against Amtrak. If you suffered a loss or injury in this derailment, our firm is here to help you in any way we can.
On Monday, June 27, 2022, an Amtrak train slammed into a dump truck at an uncontrolled railroad crossing and derailed in Mendon, Missouri. Four people died and roughly 150 people sustained injuries in the Missouri Amtrak train derailment. The fatalities include three passengers aboard the Amtrak Southwest Chief Train 4 and the dump truck driver.
According to authorities, the Amtrak train crash happened at approximately 12:42 p.m. local time at an uncontrolled crossing, meaning it did not have warning lights or motion gates. The railroad track, owned by BNSF, intersects at Country Rd. 113 (Porche Prairie Ave.), a gravel road southwest of Mendon.
Amtrak Southwest Chief Train 4 Was Travelling from Los Angeles to Chicago When it Derailed in Missouri
Amtrak issued a statement saying the train had approximately 275 passengers and 12 crew members onboard at time of the crash. Amtrak Southwest Chief Train 4 was traveling eastbound from Los Angeles to Chicago when the train slammed into a dump truck owned by MS Contracting. The truck was reportedly transporting materials to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project near the crash site.
Eight of the Amtrak train cars and 2 locomotives derailed after impact. Amtrak passenger Rob Nightingale of Taos, New Mexico told the media that he was resting in his sleeper compartment when the lights above him flickered. Nightingale said the train then wobbled back and forth before it tipped onto its side. He and several other passengers were able to escape the wreckage through a window.
The passengers aboard the Amtrak train included two Boy Scout troops from Appleton, Wisconsin and a group of high school students from Pleasant Ridge High School in Easton, Kansas.
Another passenger, Charles Hoffman, described the Missouri train derailment as “hell on Earth.” Hoffman was riding backwards when the train toppled over and “skidded forever.” A window close to him broke open and filled the car with rocks and debris. When the train finally came to a stop, it took him a moment to get his bearings before he rolled his way out of the toppled car and onto the upright side of the train. Hoffman spent a day in the emergency room to monitor some cardiac issues. “I will say I'll never be on a train again for many years, many, many years," he told NPR.
Deceased Victims in Amtrak Crash Identified
Authorities have identified the fatalities in the Missouri Amtrak derailment:
- Kim Holsapple, 56, of De Soto, Kansas
- Rochelle Cook, 58, of De Soto, Kansas
- Binh Pham, 82, of Kansas City, Missouri
- Billy Barton II, 54, of Brookfield, Missouri
Kim Holsapple and Rochelle Cook were sisters who lived in De Soto. They, along with Binh Pham, were passengers aboard the Amtrak train that crashed. Billy Barton II was the dump truck driver who lost his life in the crash.
What Caused the Missouri Train Derailment?
Officials from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) arrived in Missouri to investigate the cause of the fatal Amtrak train crash in Missouri. Generally, NTSB train crash investigations take a year or more to complete. Once NTSB completes its investigation, the agency will issue a final report on the train crash and include any relevant safety recommendations to prevent this type of accident from happening again.
Train crash lawyer Timothy A. Loranger says that while the investigation will certainly focus on the actions of the train engineer, officials also need to answer questions about the crossing, which he believes is dangerous. “This particular intersection sees trains crossing through it every day going as fast as 90 miles per hour,” says Loranger “You have the incline from the gravel road up to the tracks and growing vegetation potentially obstructing incoming trains. That is a recipe for disaster.”
Local officials told the media that citizens had brought up concerns about the crossing since at least 2019. Chariton County commissioners reportedly spoke with the Missouri Department of Transportation’s Railroad Safety division and the agency said the crossing “is on their plans to repair.”
Other efforts to improve the crossing include a meeting with a state Railroad Safety division engineer at the crossing site, email correspondence with the Railroad Safety division to address safety concerns about the crossing, and a call to BNSF Railway, “to express our concerns with the visibility issue” at the crossing. All of the above happened between March and May of 2021.
Earlier this year, In January, the Missouri Department of Transportation submitted to the Federal Railroad Administration its “State Freight & Rail Plan” plan, which included a proposal to put lights and gates at the crossing, along with improvements to the roadway. An MODOT spokesperson said the crossing near Mendon “is identified for funding for improvements."
As for BNSF, a spokesperson said the company is not aware of the state’s proposed safety improvements.
“While the investigation is just getting started, crossing gates and warning lights are critical and had they been put up, this tragedy likely never would have happened,” Loranger says.
Nationwide Train Crash Lawyer Team with Proven Results in Cases Against Amtrak
If you or someone in your family was harmed in the Missouri train derailment, you may be able to pursue justice and compensation. The train crash lawyers from the national law firm of Wisner Baum have a proven track record of success in cases against many of the nation’s top railroad companies. We have successfully represented train crash victims in litigation arising from train derailments, train collisions, train accidents at grade-crossings, FELA-railroad employee injury claims, and other incidents involving Amtrak, CSX, Conrail, MARC, and Metrolink trains.
Our case history in Amtrak train accidents includes:
- Amtrak train vs. pedestrian, San Diego, California (2020)
- Amtrak train incident traveling from Washington D.C. to Newark (2019)
- Amtrak derailment, near DuPont, Washington (2017)
- Amtrak derailment, near Dodge City, Kansas (2016)
- Amtrak derailment, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, (2015)
- Amtrak vs. vehicle, Vacaville, California (2015)
- Amtrak derailment, Flora, Mississippi (2004)
- Amtrak derailment, near Corning, Iowa (2001)
- Amtrak crash, Silver Spring, Maryland (1996)
- Amtrak derailment, Near Batavia, New York (1994)
- Amtrak derailment, Saraland, Alabama (1993)
- Amtrak derailment, Camden, South Carolina (1991)
- Amtrak vs. pickup truck, Madera, California (1991)
- Amtrak crash, Chase, Maryland (1987)
Here are some of the reasons to choose our train accident lawyers to handle your case:
- We have won over $4 billion in verdicts and settlements across all areas of practice.
- We have litigated train accident cases since 1987.
- Appointed to litigation leadership in Plaintiffs’ Steering Committees for major train accident cases.
- Listed in The Best Lawyers in America®, Top Ranked Law Firms™, U.S. News & World Report Best Lawyers® Best Law Firms, and in Martindale Hubbell’s Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers.
- Obtained successful resolutions for clients in over 85 train accident cases.
Our track record of success in train accident litigation is not solely measured by the compensation earned for our clients. Our attorneys are also dedicated train safety advocates as exemplified by our efforts to mandate positive train control, and our extensive work to eliminate the extreme risk in the push-pull passenger rail system. Inspired by those who lost family members in the 2005 Glendale, California Metrolink train crash, our train crash lawyers worked extensively with legislators to ban the pushing of passenger trains.
Following the 2015 Amtrak 188 derailment in Philadelphia, our firm was appointed to serve on the Plaintiffs’ Management Committee. The Amtrak 188 litigation resulted in a record $265 million settlement on behalf of all the injured passengers. We represented 10 Amtrak passengers harmed in this preventable derailment.
Our advocacy for train safety has sent a strong message to the railroad industry: if you choose profit over the safety of rail passengers and crew members, you will be held accountable for the result.
Missouri Train Derailment Update
A month after the fatal Missouri Amtrak crash, lawsuits continue to be filed by passengers and their families. This week, two more lawsuits were filed.
The first lawsuit was filed by the sons of Kim Holsapple, one of the Amtrak passengers killed in the train derailment. The complaint names MS Contracting LLC and the deceased dump truck driver as defendants.
The other lawsuit was filed on behalf of five passengers who sustained injuries in the derailment. The injured passenger lawsuit alleges negligence against BNSF Railways, MS Contracting, and the owner of the company.
There have now been 10 lawsuits filed in connection to the train crash in Missouri.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued its preliminary investigative report on last month’s Amtrak derailment outside of Mendon, Missouri. The derailment killed four people and injured dozens of others.
According to the NTSB report, the train derailment caused an estimated $4 million in damage. The report also said that positive train control (PTC) was operational at the time of the derailment.
The maximum allowable speed on the section of track where the train accident took place is 90 miles per hour for passenger trains. A preliminary review of data from the train’s leading locomotive’s event recorder indicated the train was traveling at 89 miles per hour when its emergency brakes were activated. CNN reported that the train was going 87 miles per hour when it impacted with the dump truck, which sustained heavy damage in the crash and came to rest in a ditch northeast of the rail crossing.
At the time of the accident, the weather conditions were clear with no precipitation, so weather does not appear to be a factor.
NTSB officials indicated that the investigation will focus next “on highway railroad grade crossing design specifications, railcar design, survival factors, and passenger railcar crashworthiness.”