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Amtrak derailment: Local mayor issued grave warning weeks before deadly incident

Click to play video: 'Audio of radio chatter between Amtrak train, dispatcher in moments following derailment'
Audio of radio chatter between Amtrak train, dispatcher in moments following derailment
WATCH ABOVE: Audio of radio chatter between Amtrak train, dispatcher in moments following derailment – Dec 18, 2017

The mayor of a community neighbouring the site of Monday’s Amtrak derailment issued a grave warning to state transportation officials two weeks before the deadly incident.

Lakewood Mayor Don Anderson told the Washington State Department of Transportation of the dangers the new high-speed train posed to the community, KOMO News reported.

“Come back when there is that accident, and try to justify not putting in those safety enhancements,” Anderson said on Dec. 4.

“Or you can go back now and advocate for the money to do it, because this project was never needed and endangers our citizens.”

Anderson was advocating for more separation between the trains and other vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

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WATCH: Ongoing video coverage of the Amtrak derailment

The mayor’s warning followed failed legal efforts by the city of Lakewood to stop the high-speed train from cutting through the community. Despite the objections and concerns, the train started running on Monday.

At around 7:30 am local time on its first morning of operation, the Amtrak train derailed on an overpass, leaving the train hanging off the bridge onto an interstate below. Multiple fatalities have been reported.

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Seventy-eight passengers and five crew members were on board the train when it derailed. The new service — Amtrak Train 501 — carried passengers from Seattle to Portland.

The cause of the derailment has not yet been determined; it is now under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.

In a statement, Amtrak said it “regrets any inconvenience.”

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Global News reached out to Anderson’s office for additional comment Monday but did not hear back by the time of publication.

— With files from Global News reporter Amy Judd

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