'Truly massive and catastrophic': Portland doctor spends 2 hours helping Amtrak victims

A derailed train is seen on southbound Interstate 5 on Monday, Dec. 18, 2017, in DuPont, Wash. An Amtrak train making an inaugural run on a new route derailed south of Seattle on Monday, spilling train cars onto a busy interstate in an accident that resulted in "multiple fatalities" and numerous injuries, authorities said. (AP Photo/Rachel La Corte)

A Portland-based doctor spent two hours administering first-aid to victims of the Amtrak derailment Monday morning, and said it was the worst emergency he has ever witnessed.

Dr. Nathan Selden, a pediatric neurosurgeon at OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital, was on his way to Seattle with his son when an Amtrak train derailed, sending several cars onto Interstate 5 southbound. At least three people are dead and 77 others were injured.

Dr. Selden and his son weren't injured in the crash, but they immediately offered aid to the dozens of injured passengers.

Even as a doctor himself, Dr. Selden said he hasn't seen anything like this before.

"It was something truly massive and catastrophic," he said. "I've only seen things like this on television before I happened upon it this morning... I was seeing patients who were conscious, with severe lacerations, skull fractures, back and neck injuries, pretty bad pelvic fractures and leg and arm fractures."

Dr. Selden spent two hours at the scene.

The train was making the inaugural run on the new route as part of a $180.7 million project designed to speed up service by removing passenger trains from a route along Puget Sound that’s bogged down by curves, single-track tunnels and freight traffic.

The new track reroutes passenger trains to a bypass rail line along I-5. The proposed route is the same that Sound Transit uses for Sounder commuter rail service to Lakewood.

The train was going 81.1 mph moments before the derailment, according to transitdocs.com, a website that maps Amtrak train locations and speeds using data from the railroad’s train tracker app.

The maximum speed along the stretch of track, known as Point Defiance Bypass, is 79 mph, according to information about the project posted online by the Washington State Department of Transportation.

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