9 October 1995
| avenge the Waco Siege|
| Amtrak Sunset Limited train|
train derailment caused by sabotage
unknown; possibly right-wing domestic terrorists
Palo Verde, Arizona, United States
1993 Big Bayou Canot trai, 1987 Maryland train colli, 1999 Bourbonnais - Illinois - tr, 1995 Fox River Grove bu, 1995 Baku Metro fire
The 1995 Palo Verde derailment took place on October 9, 1995, when Amtrak's Sunset Limited was derailed by saboteurs near Palo Verde, Arizona on Southern Pacific Railroad tracks. The two locomotives and eight of the twelve cars derailed, four of them falling 30 feet (9 m) off a trestle bridge into a dry river bed. Mitchell Bates, a sleeping car attendant, was killed. Seventy-eight people were injured, 12 of them seriously.
1995 Palo Verde, Arizona derailment Wikipedia
Four typewritten notes, attacking the ATF and the FBI for the 1993 Waco Siege, criticizing local law enforcement, and signed "Sons of the Gestapo," were found near the scene of the crash, indicating that the train had been sabotaged. All four notes were identical copies of the same message. Two of the notes were found by Neal Hallford, a passenger traveling from Oklahoma to San Diego, California.
It was found that the rails had been shifted out of position to cause the derailment, but only after they had been connected with wires. This kept the track circuit closed, circumventing safety systems designed to warn locomotive engineers of track problems, and suggested that the saboteurs had a working knowledge of railroads. The attack was likened to the 1939 crash of the City of San Francisco, in which a similar method killed 24 people.
The saboteurs were never identified. The FBI now believes that the "Sons of the Gestapo" terrorist group was fictitious and invented to conceal a plan to wreck and rob a freight train. It is also thought that the sabotage may have been done by a disgruntled rail worker who used the notes to mislead investigators and conceal the real motive.
After 1996, the Sunset Limited was rerouted to south of Phoenix (approaching no closer than Maricopa) due to the desire of Southern Pacific to abandon this stretch of track (leading to and thru Phoenix, AZ) for its thru-trains, between southern New Mexico and southern California. The section of track on which the wreck took place is now used as storage track only.
The causes of this wreck have been explored in two major documentaries, Why Trains Crash: Blood on the Tracks, and Derailed: America's Worst Train Wrecks. It has also been featured on an episode of Unsolved Mysteries.
The case remains unsolved, but on April 10, 2015, the Phoenix office of the FBI announced a reward of $310,000 for information about the derailment leading to the capture of those responsible.