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Dick Quickwood

Workers Derail Runaway Train

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COMMERCE, Calif. (June 20) - A line of train cars broke loose in a switching yard and rolled more than 30 miles before workers derailed them to avoid a potential disaster in Los Angeles, launching tons of lumber onto trackside homes but causing only a handful of injuries.

 

Railroad workers diverted the 31 cars onto a side track at noon after they had raced nearly 30 miles at speeds sometimes topping 70 mph. At least 11 derailed, unleashing a blizzard of wood, newsprint and fiberboard that destroyed two homes and damaged two others.

 

''That was the last chance we felt we had to derail them before they went into downtown Los Angeles,'' Union Pacific Railroad spokesman John Bromley said.

 

Firefighters sent three children and three adults to hospitals for treatment of minor injuries. Seven other people were treated for minor injuries at the scene, authorities said.

 

The train cars were derailed in the largely industrial community about 30 minutes after they got loose at a switching yard in Montclair and began rolling downhill.

 

''We saw the train demolishing and splintering the house. You saw the power lines going down, the sparks. I was in shock,'' said Jason Mendez, 34.

 

''It sounded like a plane crash combined with an earthquake,'' he said.

 

Firefighters and dogs searched huge piles of debris and news helicopters were asked to back off to allow the use of listening equipment. But no one was believed to be missing.

 

''It's very amazing,'' said Los Angeles County Fire Chief Michael Freeman. ''What if this happened in the middle of the night with everybody sleeping?''

 

Many residents of the neighborhood - filled with single-family houses with small yards and front porches - were at work at the time.

 

Some witnesses stood outside the debris crying. Others watched in silence as rescue workers combed the wreckage.

 

Luis Carlos Vasquez Jr., 31, was raking in the back yard of one of the homes hit by flying wreckage when he heard the train.

 

''The sound wasn't right. When I turned around, rocks are flying, there are two box cars in the air.''

 

He said he rushed inside the house to rescue his sister, who had taken refuge in a closet.

 

''A pair of wheels fell in front of me. The ceiling was coming down. Debris all over the place. I got my sister and carried her out.''

 

The National Transportation Safety Board dispatched investigators, spokesman Paul Schlamm said from Washington, D.C.

 

It was initially believed that efforts to sidetrack the runaway cars had failed. Bromley later said that railroad employees had ruled out other side tracks along the route because of the risks to property.

 

''It came down to this was the last spot where we could do it,'' Bromley said.

 

At such speed, diverting the cars onto the side track caused them to derail.

 

The switching yard in Montclair is about 27 miles east of Commerce. No railroad employees were reported injured.

 

AP-NY-06-20-03 2149EDT

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'N' scale trains that were carrying toothpicks.

Thanks for the picture links, it adds alot more to the story.

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Originally posted by crave

damn, those cars really do look like toys in that first shot.

 

holy shit they do!

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notice the guy standing on top of the car in the middle upper section of the first picture...

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Uhm, just one question...how the fuck did those cars get on the loose in the first place? Who's boo boo was that? I bet someone had some explaining to do. The sick part of me wishes I was there to see that line go flying in mid air. How could would that be!?

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I think I've let enough time pass that I can mention this now. Earlier this year I had to try and prevent a derailment while out benching. It was insane, I watched this mixed freight come along towards the junction I bench at, when I hear this dull BANG-BANG-BANG-BANG noise and see that the covered hopper directly behind the 3rd engine has its entire front truck at a 45 angle with the first axle outside the rail hammering up and down over the ties kicking up gravel and dust. I thought for sure I was about to watch the whole train pile up right infront of me. I screamed at the engineer once before realizing how utterly stupid that was considering he cant hear shit. So I ran to the nearest no tresspassing sign to call the ____ police dispatch. so they can inform the engine crew and get the train stopped since they obviously dont see or feel the drag yet.

 

while my call is going through the train slows down slightly as it works its way through the curve and I almost hung up figuring that it was stopping. ring*ring*ring* then it starts notching up again and I'm standing there fucking amazed that this thing isnt grinding to a halt. so I tell the dispatcher whats happening, and they forward me through about 3 people till they get local dispatch for the railroad whos train it actually was (not the ones who run that junction) and they say DONT MOVE we'll have a cruiser there in 7 minutes. so by now the train is complete gone out of sight. after about 5 minutes some trackworker comes along eyeballing the track that the derailed unit was going over. I wave and get him to come over (I'm staying 100% off property now since I'll have to deal with the RR cops) just as the cruiser pulls up behind me. the cops gets out and gets the details of what happens from me as well as my name and info. no chatter on his radio as he talks. then the rr worker comes over and says to the cop "hey, one of your units just took out a worker up at _______" which is just up the line. the cop throws his notebook in the car. gives me a hurried handshake and peels away towards the next spot in a cloud of dust.

 

haven't heard from anyone since. shit was crazy. I even have a photo off the derailed unit as it went by since I was there benching. I'll try and post it some time.

 

 

the point was.....you'd be suprised what engine crews dont notice....

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Guest rob deer

one of my favorite yard moments:

 

biking through the yard on a windy day while the crew's humping shit was pretty routine untill an empty wood car started blowing away from everyone. it was sort of gusty, nothing major, nothing over 25 mph. anyway, some guy had to book ass and jump on the car and use the wheel brake which is up a lot higher on those wood cars...he came about 10 meters from totally eating shit where the line ended.

 

meanwhile, his fat co-workers cheered.

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ese's story reminds me of the time i saw this flatbed car come into the yard that had a big flat spot in one of the wheels, i could feel it in the ground each time the flat spot hit, and it was really loud.

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Guest PHYNE

dude i know a conductor who is a mad pill junky.....and they let him drive trains? hahaha whats that all about?....but it is cool seeing him out on the lines while we bench its kinda weird.......i dunno anyways a out of control engine went bizerk like 2 years ago here in ohio.........im sure you can find it on google if anyone cares im not finding no links fuck it peace:D

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