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Victim killed in Amtrak train derailment south of Tacoma identified

The identity of one of the victims killed in Monday's Amtrak train derailment south of Tacoma has been released....

Posted: Dec. 20, 2017 3:55 AM
Updated: Dec. 20, 2017 3:55 AM

The identity of one of the victims killed in Monday's Amtrak train derailment south of Tacoma has been released.

Pierce Transit named Zack Willhoite as one of the three people killed on Amtrak Cascades 501, which derailed in DuPont, Washington, when it was traveling from Seattle to Portland as the inaugural trip on a new route.

Pierce Transit said it was deeply saddened Willhoite was among the derailment victims. Willhoite was an IT customer service support specialist and had been a Pierce Transit employee since 2008.

"He has always been deeply appreciated and admired by his colleagues, and played an important role at our agency. 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," Pierce Transit said.

Amtrak Cascades 501 was traveling 80 mph in a 30 mph zone Monday before it derailed, National Transportation Safety Board board member T. Bella Dinh-Zarr said, but it was too early to know why the train was going that speed.

The track the train had been traveling on had just been upgraded as part of a $181 million project for a faster path.

Sound Transit, the public transit system for the Seattle area, owns the track and oversaw construction of the upgrades.

Agency spokeswoman Kimberly Reason said extensive testing was done before the opening of the system Monday.

Amtrak reported 80 passengers and five crew members were on the train when it derailed. There were 12 cars and two engines, with all but one of them coming off the tracks.

Five vehicles and two semis on I-5 were hit by the derailed train. All three deaths were contained to victims on the train.

A NTSB spokesperson told FOX 12 Tuesday morning that they recovered the data box from the rear locomotive and downloaded it, but they don't have the front engine data box out of the locomotive yet. NTSB hoped to recover that later Tuesday.

Investigators with NTSB will be at the scene for seven to 10 days.

A news conference with NTSB is scheduled for 3 p.m.

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