Wife of victim in Montana derailment sues Amtrak

Greg Nash

The wife of a man killed in a train derailment in Montana has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Amtrak.

Rebecca Schneider filed the lawsuit in an Illinois federal court on Tuesday on behalf of her late husband, 28-year-old Zach Schneider, alleging that he died as the result of a “preventable tragedy.”

Seven cars on the Empire Builder train derailed near Joplin on Saturday while traveling from Seattle to Chicago. More than 50 people were injured as a result.

The cause of the derailment has not yet been determined, though National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg said Monday that the train was going under the speed limit when it derailed.   

The suit is the first following the derailment, according to law firm Salt Mongeluzzi & Bendesky P.C., which is representing Rebecca Schneider.

Listed as defendants are Amtrak and BNSF Railway Company, which owns the track.  

The Hill has reached out to Amtrak and BNSF for comment.

According to the complaint, Zach Schneider was in the viewing car when the train derailed, while Rebecca Schneider was in the sleeper car. When the viewing car derailed, Zach Schneider was “violently tossed about inside the car, slamming into metal seats and structures within the passenger compartment,” resulting in fatal injuries.

When the sleeper car came to rest, Rebecca Schneider attempted to climb out of the car, but the door was stuck. A crew member eventually smashed the door open with a sledgehammer and she was able to escape.

Six hours after the incident, officials told Schneider that her husband had died.

She sustained “severe and life-altering injuries” because of the crash, the complaint alleges.

“Rebecca has also suffered and will continue to endure unfathomable grief and emotional and psychological injuries resulting from the death of her husband, Zach,” the suit reads.

Tags Amtrak BNSF Railway Company Derailment Montana Rail transport by country Rail transportation in the United States
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