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County transit employee among 3 killed in Amtrak train derailment in Washington state

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WSDOT Tacoma Traffic(TACOMA, Wash.) — One of the three people killed when a train derailed in Washington state Monday has been identified as a county transit employee.

Victim Zack Willhoite was an IT customer service support specialist with Pierce Transit, where he had worked since 2008, Pierce Transit said.

“He has always been deeply appreciated and admired by his colleagues, and played an important role at our agency,” Pierce Transit said. “He will be sincerely missed. Our thoughts are with Zack’s family, as well as the families of the other victims, during this very difficult time.”

The Monday morning crash killed three people and injured many more when it derailed going over a bridge near Dupont, Washington, landing on the highway below.

Here’s what we know about the train crash so far:

-The train was carrying over 80 passengers and crew.

-Several drivers were injured on the road below the crash, but no one was killed.

-The train was making its inaugural ride on the route from Seattle to Portland, Oregon. The track had recently been upgraded from a freight line to allow for passenger trains.

 -The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said the train was traveling 80 mph in a 30-mph zone, according to the black box recovered from the accident. The train had been traveling for 18 miles since its previous stop.

-Investigators have yet to interview the crew and engineer in the accident, and were unsure why the train was going so fast. Today is NTSB investigators’ first full day on the scene, and they are being led by Ted Turpin, a veteran investigator who led the review of the 2015 Amtrak crash in Philadelphia which killed eight people. The investigation is expected to last seven to 10 days.

 -The southbound lane of Interstate 5, where the train cars came crashing down, is closed today.

-Positive train control (PTC), which can automatically slow trains in order to avoid danger, was not in use on the tracks where the accident occurred. Though track owner Sound Transit said the feature was installed, it was apparently not activated. NTSB board member Bella Dinh-Zarr said it would investigate why beginning today.

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Source: ABC National News

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