Mile 58 has a bumpy history Inspectors had reported problems with the track on four separate occasions


News staff writer

April 5

Susan Corriker's Amtrak journey from her home in Staples, Minn. to the baby shower her mom was throwing for her in Vancouver, Wash., was only supposed to last 32 hours.

It ended up lasting 58 hours because the Empire Builder on which Corriker and her companion, Jose Bucio, were riding derailed at 9:40 Sunday morning in Home Valley, Wash., a half-hour from their destination and a few miles east of Stevenson.

Twenty-seven people were treated for injuries they sustained in the derailment, including Corriker and Bucio, whom an ambulance transported to Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital. A helicopter flew one passenger to Legacy Emanual Hospital and Health Center in Portland. He had reportedly sustained serious injuries.

Bucio suffered what his emergency doctor initially thought was a broken shoulder.

“But when he looked at it again he realized I had just hurt it,” Bucio said.

Corriker, who is 26 weeks pregnant, complained of a pain in her lower abdomen. Worried that the train wreck might have ripped her placenta, her doctors kept her at Providence overnight for observation.

“Everything seems to be fine,” she said.

The five-car train was carrying 114 passengers and crew members from Spokane.

“We were just saying we should be there in a half-hour,” Corriker said. “Then the train started going everywhere.

We were just sitting there and it felt like we hit something. It started swaying, side-to-side. It was tipping and throwing people around. It threw me into the chair next to me. It threw Jose around. Everybody got thrown around, except this one, old lady, who just sat there. And when it was done, she said 'Ooh. That was fun.'

“I told her she was crazy.”

Corriker and Bucio caught the first and only ambulance ride to PHRMH.

PHRMH responded to the train wreck by staffing their emergency room.

“We were on full stand-by,” said Barbara Young, spokesperson for PHRMH. “But we only got the two patients.”

The immediate response to the derailment transformed mile 58 on Highway 14 into a road block constructed with flashing ambulances, fire engines, law enforcement vehicles and a school bus, which transported the uninjured to Wind River Middle School.

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) set up triage there; investigators searched the shredded tracks for explanations of the derailment and firefighters from several counties in two different states gathered to help extricate the wounded inside the five-car train.

Keith Holloway, public information officer for the National Transportation Safety Board, confirmed Tuesday that Burlington Northern Sante Fe and federal track inspectors had reported problems with that section of rail on four separate occasions within the last three weeks.

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