First victim of Amtrak crash identified, new photos emerge


The first victim of Monday’s derailed Amtrak train in Washington state has been identified.

While at least three victims were killed in the brutal crash, one has been identified by friends and relatives as Zack Willhoite, a local transit buff participating in the first run of the new high-speed train route between Seattle and Portland, Oregon.

According to Chris Karnes, the chairman of the system’s advisory committee, Willhoite was a rail enthusiast who worked for Pierce County’s transit service. Pierce Transit confirmed his death, saying he had worked in IT for the service 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 statement. “He will be sincerely missed.”

Kevin R. Cartwright posted the news of his death to a transit-focused Facebook group of which Willhoite was a part.

We lost an angel today, and we will never forget Zack’s contributions to our hobby,” Cartwright wrote. “May he rest in peace and smile with us from afar as we fondly remember him and recount the good memories with which he has left us.”

Willhoite and the other two unidentified deceased victims were among the 78 passengers riding the train. Five crew members were also aboard the train. Officials have confirmed the train was traveling 80 mph in a 30-mph zone when nearly all its cars became dislodged, approximately 20 miles south of Tacoma, at 7:30 a.m. Monday. Several of the cars fell onto the I-5 freeway below, hitting and injuring several motorists.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators haven’t officially released the cause of the horrific accident. Multiple images from the scene have been circulating throughout Twitter. A few of those posts can be viewed below:

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