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Amtrak passenger train sabotaged outside Hyder Arizona in 1995

Amtrak cars derailed in ravine near Hyder, Arizona, October 1995

In the early morning hours of October 9, 1995, dozens of passengers were injured when the Amtrak Train Sunset Limited derailed West of Phoenix due to saboteur(s) pulling railroad spikes and disabling warning systems.

The Crash:

The day of the crash Phoenix hospital workers were preparing for mass causalities, the hallways lined with wheelchairs and gurneys.

The train was carrying 258 passengers and 29 crew members when it derailed October 9 outside of Hyder Arizona, roughly 70 miles Southwest of Phoenix.

The Sunset Limited Amtrak train was traveling from New Orleans to Los Angeles when it derailed, sending four of its 12 passenger cars off a 30-foot trestle into a ravine.

78 people on board were injured, 12 with serious injuries and one death.

Amtrak employee Mitchell Bates, 41 years old, died in the crash.

Two dozen rail spikes had been pulled out

After treating the wounded, authorities moved into investigation mode and soon realized this was no accident.

Investigators from Amtrak, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, and the FBI found that more than two dozen rail spikes had been pulled out and the tracks had been pried apart just ahead of the ravine.

The saboteur(s) also disabled the electronic warning system that would typically warn the train crew that there was trouble ahead. Amtrak officials say the train was traveling about 50 miles per hour when it hit the disabled section of track.

Based on this, Amtrak investigators believed the person(s) responsible may be familiar with railroad operations and also be familiar with the area.

Amtrak cars derailed in ravine near Hyder, Arizona, October 1995 – FBI

The “Sons of the Gestapo”

As 90 federal agents combed through the wreckage, they found two notes labeled, “An indictment of the ATF and FBI.”

One note was found on each side of the tracks. They were addressed to the State Police, Sheriffs’ Office, FBI, and ATF.

One of the letters mentioned the April 1993 FBI raid of the Branch Davidian compound near Waco Texas, where 80 members of the sect died in a fire during an FBI raid. The notes also mentioned the shootout at Ruby Ridge in 1992 where FBI agents killed the son and wife of Randy Weaver, who was accused of being an illegal gun manufacturer. Both notes were signed “Sons of the Gestapo.”

This group had never been heard of, before or since this intentional derailment.


Another letter was addressed to the Hyder Public Library, but since Hyder has no government buildings, the letter was sent to a nearby elementary school in Dateland.

This letter had handwritten swastikas on it and was also signed, “Sons of the Gestapo.”

Investigators believe these letters were sent to mislead them.

hyder arizona

Campers and the Cowboy:

FBI agents interviewed two men who were camping in the desert about eight miles from the derailment. A resident of Arlington, Arizona took a polygraph test and had his home searched, but nothing more became of it.

Passengers at the derailment scene told agents they saw a man wearing a cowboy hat walking away from the site.

He didn’t appear to be a passenger, first responder, or investigator. Officials were hoping to find this man to see if he knew or saw anything, but they never found him.

The Reward:

Over 150 federal agents in addition to state and local investigators did hundreds of interviews and tracked down thousands of leads, but here we are 21 years later, no suspects, no arrests, no motive.

The FBI, Amtrak, and MCSO have combined to offer up to $310,000 for information leading to an arrest in this long ongoing investigation.

Source: Old Time Crime: Amtrak passenger train sabotaged outside Hyder Arizona in 1995 – ABC15 Arizona