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 occupants of 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 occurred 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 hit a bridge and triggered the partial
collapse of the structure 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.
NTSB TO INVESTIGATE
There was no immediate word on the cause of the train crash.
Robert Sumwalt, a National Transportation Safety Board
member, said in a phone interview that his agency could take
about a year to reach a finding on the cause of the crash.
He told reporters earlier the agency will review the
railroads' operating procedures and the performance of the train
Terry Williams, a spokesman for the NTSB, said that under
normal circumstances a signal would halt traffic on one of the
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 accident was the second
derailment involving one of the company's trains on the same
stretch of track, and that the earlier one on Jan. 29 was
BNSF said its train, which was 75 cars long, had been
hauling scrap metal and was heading south when it was struck,
and that none of the crew was injured.