FAMILY and friends have paid tribute to an engineer who was on vacation with his wife when he was killed after an Amtrak train derailed in Montana.
Three people are dead while 50 were injured following the incident which happened at around 4pm on Saturday near Joplin.
Zach Schneider, 28, of Fairview Heights, Illinois was traveling to Portland, Oregon for a vacation with his 26-year-old wife Becca.
The engineer, originally from Missouri, worked for the financial services company Stripe.
He was killed after several of the train carriages toppled onto the tracks. At least eight of the Empire Builder’s ten cars derailed.
Family members said Schneider was a big fan of the NFL side Green Bay Packers and loved Chicago-style pizza, ABC7 reports.
Writing on a GoFundMe page, pal Caleb Morris said Zach was one of the “sweetest, smartest, and most unique” people that he knew.
Morris said: “I have always respected his ability to think differently. Zach always used this to push for a better world where everyone was included.
“Thankful to have been blessed by knowing you, Zach.”
Becca posted a series of snaps on her Instagram page, including one taken by a professional photographer on their wedding day.
In a touching tribute to her husband, she said: “There will never be another you.”
The other two victims of the crash have not yet been identified.
Amtrak spokesperson Jason Abrams said the train had around 141 passengers and 16 crew members onboard at the time of the accident.
He said: “We are deeply saddened to learn local authorities are now confirming that three people have lost their lives as a result of this accident.”
It was not immediately clear what caused the incident.
Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn said: “We are in mourning for the people who lost their lives due to the derailment of the Empire Builder train Saturday, near Joplin, Montana, on the BNSF Railway, as well as the many others who were injured.
“’We have no words that can adequately express our sorrow for those who lost a loved one or who were hurt in this horrible event. They are in our thoughts and prayers.’
Montana’s Disaster and Emergency Services coordinator Amanda Frickel told the New York Times that “well over 50 people had been injured”.
She said teams of rescuers rushed to the scene and multiple hospitals – as well as medical helicopters – were put on standby.
She added: “Everybody who is alive has been extricated from the wreck.”
Photos posted to social media showed rail cars on their sides and passengers standing alongside the tracks.
One person, who was sleeping when the train derailed, told an Al Jazeera journalist she awoke to find a “‘gory’ scene in the other coach cars”.
Twitter user Jacob Cordeiro, who appeared to be posting photos from the scene, shared images and said “we derailed”.
One user replied: “Do you have any idea what will be done? My mom is on the train.”
Another commented: “Yes please any information is appreciated as I also have family on that train and haven’t been told what will be done.”
A third posted: “That’s the info I’m looking for as well. They’re in the middle of nowhere and I’m hoping someone is coming for those who are ok soon too.”
The accident occurred in a remote location as Great Falls – the nearest city – is located two hours away.
Matt Jones, a BNSF Railway spokesman, said the track was last inspected on Thursday, DailyMail.com reports.
Between 50-60 people were taken to a local school where they were given food and water.
A grocery store in Chester, around 5 miles from the derailment site, and a religious community provided aid to survivors.
The National Transportation Service Board said it would send a 14-member crew to investigate the crash.
It’s reported that the findings from their investigation could take months.
Amtrak has asked anyone with friends and family onboard to call 800-523-9101.
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