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Disasters and Accidents
Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

After Two Amtrak Derailments, Pierce County Executive Has 'Serious Questions'

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Austin Jenkins
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Northwest News Network
Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier speaks at a news conference Tuesday near the site of an Amtrak Cascades train that derailed killing three. He was joined by Gov. Jay Inslee, left.

Monday’s deadly train accident near DuPont, Washington, was the second derailment of an Amtrak Cascades in five months. That’s raising questions about the safety of the popular commuter rail line that runs between Vancouver, BC, and Eugene, Oregon.

In July, an Amtrak Cascades train traveling from Eugene to Seattle derailed near Steilacoom, Washington. There were no serious injuries, but speed was a factor. Then this week, a Portland-bound Cascades train derailed at high-speed on a new bypass route that allows trains to avoid Steilacoom. Three passengers died.

At a news conference at the crash site, Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier was asked about his confidence in Amtrak’s safety record in his county.

“We have had two accidents in Pierce County and you can bet that we’re going to be part of making sure that those questions are asked and that we believe the answers that come out from it,” Dammeier said. “This is a very serious issue that we’ve got to get to the bottom of.”

Dammeier added that there will be “plenty of time” to get those questions answered. He was joined by Gov. Jay Inslee at the news conference. They both said the focus now is on the victims, their families, the investigation and clean-up.