Sunset Limited Derailment

They who will not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Recent events raise ghosts of the past.

October 9, 1995

An Amtrak passenger train enroute from Phoenix, Arizona to Los Angeles, California derails at 1:20 AM on a deserted section of track in a protected wilderness area. One railroad worker is killed, 77 passengers and crew are injured, 12 seriously. The train carried 248 passengers and 20 crew.

There is strong evidence of sabotage by a person or persons who knew how to defeat railroad safety devices.

A typewritten letter is found at the scene claiming that the derailment was caused by the "Sons of the Gestapo." The letter is critical of the government and bears swastikas. It alludes to the FBI and BATF involvement in the Randy Weaver incident in Ruby Ridge, Idaho and the Branch Davidian incident in Waco, Texas. It is also critical of local law enforcement in Arizona.

A Southern Pacific Railway spokesperson told reporters that the section of track is inspected for safety twice a week, the most recent inspection having been on October 5. The last train to successfully use the section of track passed through 18 hours before. Railway officials estimated that it would only take 10 minutes for knowledgeable persons to implement the sabotage.

President Clinton immediately cites the incident as an example of why his stalled anti-terrorism bill must be passed by Congress. The bill has been strongly criticized for its negative impact on civil liberties by both liberals and conservatives.

Who Did It?

It is not yet clear who is responsible. Among the suggestions:


Groups that most likely would have the technology to accomplish the sabotage or who might benefit most from the act or the letter include: Am I suggesting a government conspiracy? Not necessarily, although I am not ruling it out, either. Even in the event that government employees are involved, they would not necessarily be acting in an official capacity. What is most clear, however, is that the note found at the scene was intended to mislead. "Sons of the Gestapo" indeed!

Regardless of who is responsible, we must still contend with the fact that incidents such as this are being cited by proponents of anti-terrorism legislation. We must keep in mind the lessons of history, such as the Reichstag fire and not allow ourselves to be frightened into giving up our civil liberties.

See Also

Copyright © 1995
"Orville R. Weyrich, Jr." <>

Last updated: December 31, 1997; Version: 1.4