MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — In the early morning hours of Sept. 22, 1993, an Amtrak passenger train, known as the Sunset Limited, derailed just north of Mobile leaving 47 people dead and many more traumatized. On Nov. 21, 2022, a settlement was reached between Amtrak and opposing parties to restore Amtrak services, which were discontinued in Mobile in 2005.
On Sept. 22, a towboat named the Mauvilla was pulling six barges of coal through the Alabama marshes, according to History.com. It was the early morning hours, which meant the captain of the boat, Andrew Stabler, was asleep. This left Willie Odeon driving the boat, however, Odeon did not know how to use the radar system. Because of this, Odeon turned into Big Bayou Canot, an area where barges are prohibited.
At around 2:45 a.m., the Mauvilla hit a rail bridge causing the tracks to move out of alignment by three feet. Minutes later the Sunset Limited came roaring down the track at 70 miles per hour. The train hit the misplaced track and derailed, causing three locomotives and the first four cars of the train to be sent into the water.
According to History.com, the crew of the Mauvilla did not make a rescue call until 3:08 a.m. but were able to pull seven survivors out of the water. Not only did the train go into the water, causing many people to drown, but a fire also broke out, which caused two people to die from burns.
The New York Times said at the time that the youngest passenger to die was only 3 months old and the oldest passenger was 84 years old.