By Tim Bross
ST. LOUIS May 25 Two freight trains collided at
a rail intersection in rural Missouri on Saturday, triggering
the collapse of a highway overpass when at least a dozen rail
cars derailed and struck a support pillar, authorities said.
None of the seven people hurt in the fiery crash - two train
workers and five people who had been in two cars on the
overpass - suffered life-threatening injuries, Scott County
Sheriff Rick Walter said in a statement.
"One train T-boned the other one and caused it to derail,
and the derailed train hit a pillar which caused the overpass to
collapse," Sheriff's dispatcher Clay Slipis said of the pre-dawn
crash near Chaffee, about 15 miles (24 km) southwest of Cape
Girardeau, in southeastern Missouri.
The collision of the BNSF Railway Co and Union Pacific
trains also sparked a fire when diesel fuel leaked from
one of the train engines, Slipis said.
The crash came just over a week after a commuter train
derailed in Connecticut, striking another train and injuring
more than 70 people during the evening rush hour.
On Thursday, a truck crash triggered the collapse of a
bridge in Washington state, sending two cars plunging into the
frigid Skagit River and raising concerns about the country's
aging infrastructure. Three people were rescued.
In Missouri, Wayne Woods told a regional CBS affiliate that
he rushed to the scene as soon as he heard the crash to try to
halt traffic as he called in the emergency.
"We heard the crash and we stepped outside and my son said
the overpass was down. Then we heard a car's tires squealing
like it was coming to a stop and then a crash and a horn
continuously blowing," he told KFVS television.
"I got over there, the train was on its side. They got the
guys out and lifted them down off the train and got them off the
overpass. One was kind of bloody and the other one looked like
he was pretty shook up," he said.
There was no immediate word on the cause of the crash, and
the National Transportation Safety Board said it dispatched a
team to investigate the train crash.
Television footage and news photos of the scene showed two
cars sitting atop a caved-in overpass with rail cars jacknifed
and toppled over below.
Union Pacific said its train had been primarily carrying
auto parts from Illinois to Texas when it struck the side of
another train, and that a Union Pacific engineer and conductor
were slightly injured, according to spokeswoman Calli Hite.
The Union Pacific locomotive and about a dozen cars derailed
in the crash, she added. She said the derailment was the second
involving one of the company's trains on the same stretch of
track in recent months, after a Jan. 29 derailment that was
BNSF said that its train, which was 75 cars long, had been
hauling scrap metal from salvage facilities and was heading
south when it was struck, and that none of the crew was injured.