The Cause of the Derailed Amtrak Train Remains Unclear

The Cause of the Derailed Amtrak Train Remains Unclear

In the town of Chester, about 7 to 8 miles west of the derailment, a siren system alerts the 1,000 or so residents to any important news. One ring signals a city meeting. Two, an ambulance. Three, a fire call. And four, “some terrible disaster,” said Jesse Anderson, who owns the MX Motel, a 20-room stopover that typically caters to anglers, construction workers and hunters.

When Mr. Anderson heard four sirens yesterday, he assumed it was a mistake. But then he saw fire trucks speeding through the 25 miles-per-hour main street.

“We had no idea it was going to be something of this scale,” he said.

Emergency responders from across at least seven counties rushed in to help. As the only motel for 50 miles, east or west, Mr. Anderson was called on to house some of the passengers. He offered his available rooms free of charge.

Families from a nearby Hutterite colony brought food for passengers while they waited for rides and lodging in the school gym.

Traumatized by the wreck, some passengers said they would never board a train again.

Hedie Kachorek, 71, and her husband, Robert, have been riding trains together for decades. They were on their way to meet their grandson in Seattle when the ride started to get rough. After smooth rails in Illinois and Wisconsin, it started to get uncomfortably bumpy.

As the couple discussed getting off the train early at the Shelby stop, it went off the rails.

Patrick McGeehan contributed reporting.

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