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Troopers Rescue Victims, Investigate Amtrak Derailment

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Crash scene

On Thursday, April 18, 2002, an Amtrak passenger train traveling from Sanford, Florida to Lorton, Virginia derailed south of Palatka, near the town of Crescent City. Within minutes of the mishap, troopers from Troop "G" were on the scene rescuing many of the approximately 166 injured passengers. Troopers Luis Rios and Larry McKenzie crawled inside derailed and overturned railroad cars to tend to the injured. Soon after the crash dozens of other troopers from troop "G" and nearby Volusia County were on the scene working with EMS, local law enforcement, and civilian volunteers.

Trooper McKenzie helps transport an injured passenger
Trooper Larry McKenzie helps transport an injured passenger

After several hours, all train passengers and crew were rescued and relocated to area hospitals and/or shelters. The FHP then began the complicated task of beginning an investigation into the deaths of 4 of the passengers, pending the arrival of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). With the assistance of the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office and other local law enforcement, troopers secured the scene and began collecting evidence, identifying the over 450 passengers and crew, and making notification to next-of-kin. Upon the arrival of the NTSB, FHP personnel continued to assist the Federal agency with their complex investigation.

Lt. Governor Brogan talks with Captain Coates and Public Affairs Lt. Leeper at the FHP Mobile Command Post
Lt. Governor Frank Brogan talks with Captain Brent Coates and Public Affairs Lt. Bill Leeper at the FHP Mobile Command Post

Personnel from all of troop "G" were used in the response to this significant event, and personnel from the Deland and Gainesville districts of troops "D" and "B" assisted them. Overall both local law enforcement and the NTSB recognized the excellent response by the FHP.


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