By David Schwartz
PHOENIX (Reuters) - The FBI offered a $310,000 reward on Friday for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the 1995 derailment of an Amtrak train in the remote Arizona desert that killed one person and wounded about 100 others.
The 12-car Sunset Limited train was traveling to Los Angeles from Miami with 258 passengers aboard early on Oct. 9, 1995, when it jumped the tracks crossing a bridge over a dry creek about 70 miles southwest of Phoenix.
Mark Cwynar, special agent in charge of the FBI office in Phoenix, said investigators hope the offer of money will yield vital details about who caused the deadly accident and why.
"I believe there are individuals out there who know exactly what happened," Cwynar told reporters. "And we're hoping they come forward at this time."
A sleeping car attendant died and a dozen other people were seriously injured in what authorities immediately labeled a sophisticated act of sabotage.
Investigators found that someone had pulled a pin connecting the rails and removed 29 spikes to loosen the tracks at a curve near a 30-foot high bridge.
Circuitry at the tracks had also been rewired to bypass a computerized system that would have warned the train's engineer.
Notes discovered at the scene were signed by the "Sons of the Gestapo" and referred to deadly shoot-outs between federal law enforcement agents and anti-government groups in Waco, Texas, and Ruby Ridge, Idaho.
Cwynar said investigators have not ceased working to find whoever was behind the derailment. He said agents recently conducted interviews in the case but declined to elaborate.
"We want to send a message to those responsible for this senseless act of sabotage," he said. "We're very close, we are watching and we will bring you to justice."
He urged whoever was responsible to contact police, adding: "It's time to stop looking over your shoulder and wondering when the past is finally going to catch up to the present."
The FBI is contributing most of the reward money, with $50,000 coming from Amtrak and $10,000 from the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.
(Reporting by David Schwartz; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Eric Beech)