Passengers describe Amtrak derailment as investigators comb for clues

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- An Amtrak derailment in southwest Kansas sent over two dozen people to the hospital.

The train jumped the tracks in the town of Cimarron just after midnight Monday morning, 20 minutes outside of Dodge City, Kan. Passengers on the train from Los Angeles to Chicago noticed something was not right.

"I was still pretty awake so I was reading my book on my Kindle, so I just laid back when all of a sudden it got a little bit sort of turbulence I suppose you would say. It became more drastic and after about three minutes you knew something was wrong," said Daniel Szczerba who was one of the 142 people on board.

He was sitting in the front car, which did not flip over. Seven of the nine cars derailed, five flipping on their sides.

Szczerba described the chaotic scene after the crash, "Got outside and there was just a lot of people. I heard people crying for help, you know looking for folks. It was a really dark field so everyone was just on both sides of the train kind of looking for other and family members."

Authorities say 30 people were hurt in the accident, two left in critical condition.

The latest theory of why this accident happened is that an unreported car crash may have damaged the railroad tracks, causing the train to derail.

A government official says as the train was riding along about 75 miles an hour when an engineer noticed a significant bend in the track and pulled the emergency brake to slow the train right before the train went off the tracks.

At Union Station in Kanas City, people who were about to board an Amtrak train knew about the derailment, but did not let it derail their plans to travel.

“This is actually my first trip since I was a little girl, but no, I am not afraid. I would do it again," said Andrea Moss who was headed back to St. Louis after visiting her sister in Kansas City.

Elijia Eastlund is from KC, but living in New Orleans. He said he is not concerned about anything happening during his 26-hour train trip.

“I assume the chances are pretty low, no one died, you see car crashes worse than that every day so it is not really a worry for me," said Eastlund.

Amtrak bussed the passengers to their final destination. There were several people from Kansas City on the train who were bussed back to union station.