Two rail advocates killed in Amtrak train derailment

Two of the victims that died after an Amtrak train derailed in Washington have been identified.

Posted: Dec 20, 2017 8:13 AM
Updated: Dec 20, 2017 8:24 AM

DUPONT, Washington (Rachel La Corte, AP and Gillian Flaccus, AP , KGW) — Two longtime rail advocates were among the three people killed in Monday's Amtrak train derailment south of Seattle.

Jim Hamre and Zack Willhoite were both members of the Rail Passenger Association and All Aboard Washington. Both men were passionate advocates for improving rail passenger service in the Northwest, the RPA said.

“Both Jim and Zack have been advocates of transit and passenger rail for decades, and we can’t thank them enough for their work," said RPA president Jim Mathews.

Lloyd Flem, executive director of All Aboard Washington, said Hamre retired a few years ago as a civil engineer at the Washington Transportation Department. He says Hamre lived with his mother in Puyallup.

Willhoite worked for Pierce Transit as a customer service specialist. He had been with the agency since 2008. "He has always been deeply appreciated and admired by his colleagues, and played an important role at our agency," Pierce Transit said in a prepared statement.

The name of the third person killed in the crash has not been released.

Federal officials confirmed the Amtrak train was traveling 50 mph over the speed limit when it careened off an overpass near Tacoma, spilling cars onto the highway below.

Bella Dinh-Zarr, a National Transportation Safety Board member, said information from the event data recorder in the rear locomotive showed the train was traveling at 80 mph in a 30 mph zone when it derailed at 7:34 a.m.

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