Valdosta Daily Times

National, International News

May 26, 2013

Mo. highway buckles after rail cars hit overpass

CHAFFEE, Mo. — A highway overpass in southeast Missouri collapsed early Saturday when rail cars slammed into one of the bridge’s pillars after a cargo train collision, authorities said. Seven people were injured, though none seriously.

The bridge collapsed after a Union Pacific train hit the side of a Burlington Northern Santa Fe train at a rail intersection. Derailed rail cars then hit columns supporting the Highway M overpass, causing it to buckle and partially collapse.

The National Transportation Safety Board launched an investigation into the cause of the cargo train collision, which happened about 2:30 a.m. near Chaffee, a town of about 3,000 southwest of Cape Girardeau.

Only two vehicles were on the overpass at the time. Five people in the vehicles were taken to Saint Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau, as were a Union Pacific train conductor and an engineer. All seven had been released by Saturday afternoon, hospital spokeswoman Felecia Blanton said.

“You’re driving down the road and the next thing you know the bridge is not there. ... It could have been really bad,” Scott County Sheriff Rick Walter said.

The crash derailed about two dozen rail cars hauling scrap metal, automobiles and auto parts, tossing them into the overpass’ support columns. The highway was shut down for about 8 miles from Scott City to Chaffee.

The overpass was about 15 years old and in good condition but just couldn’t withstand the impact from the rail cars, Walter said.

Two 40-foot sections of the overpass buckled while two cars were on the roadway, sending the cars into the edges of the collapsed sections. A diesel fire also broke out in one of the locomotives after the collision, but was quickly extinguished, Walter said.

When Blanton heard about the crash, she immediately went online and saw video footage of the scene and was bracing for the worst, Blanton said. She said it was “a real blessing” that the injuries were relatively minor, the most serious being a fracture.

“If you look at the pictures, they’re very dramatic, and there are no serious injuries,” she said. “So it’s amazing.”

Walter said Deputy Justin Wooten was among the first at the scene and pulled the two Union Pacific employees out of the wrecked engine, which became lodged next to the train’s second engine. That engine began burning after the crash.

“We’re very fortunate he was there,” Walter said. He said all seven people injured were already out of the wreckage when he arrived about 15 minutes after the crash was reported.

“People were talking; they were coherent. They understood what was happening,” Walter said.

The cars on the overpass “took a really bad hit” when they collided with the bridge sections, but “they stayed on all four tires and they just hit and landed and that was it,” he said.

The accident came more than a week after a commuter train derailment in Connecticut that injured 70 people and disrupted service for days. That accident involved a railroad used by tens of thousands of commuters north of New York City.

In Washington state this past week, a bridge collapsed when a truck driver’s load bumped against the steel framework.

NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt said while the investigations into both collapses are in the early stages “there is no similarity” between the Missouri accident and the bridge collapse in Washington, which sent two vehicles and three people falling into the chilly water.

He noted that the Missouri bridge was rated “good” after it was last inspected in February.

“This was not because of any lack of integrity of the bridge in southeast Missouri, but because of a train that derailed and had a bunch of rail cars slamming around, which knocked down a pier, which allowed the bridge to collapse,” he said.

“If you just look at the facts, there is no relationship other than some external object caused each of these bridges” to collapse, he added.

The Union Pacific train involved in the collision was carrying primarily automobiles or auto parts from Illinois to Texas, said UP spokeswoman Calli Hite. She said about a dozen UP railcars derailed.

Hite said there was no estimate yet on the amount of damage to the roadway or the rail cars.

BNSF spokesman Andy Williams said about 12 cars on the 75-car BNSF train derailed. The BNSF crew was not hurt.

Sumwalt said NTSB investigation will include routine testing of railroad employees for drugs and alcohol, testing the track and nearby rail signals and reviewing video footage from the front of the train in an effort to determine the likely cause. The NTSB will also review the bridge’s design.

 

1
Text Only
National, International News
  • AP4507280123 copy.jpg Today in History for Monday, July 28, 2014
    Today is Monday, July 28, the 209th day of 2014. There are 156 days left in the year. 
     

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tentative deal reached on VA reform

    The chairmen of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees have reached a tentative agreement on a plan to fix a veterans’ health program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records covering up delays.

    July 27, 2014

  • United States-Libya_Rich.jpg US evacuates embassy in Libya amid clashes

    The United States shuttered its embassy in Libya on Saturday and evacuated its diplomats to neighboring Tunisia under U.S. military escort as fighting intensified between rival militias. Secretary of State John Kerry said “free-wheeling militia violence” prompted the move.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP9607270692 copy.jpg Today in History for Sunday, July 27, 2014

    Today is Sunday, July 27, the 208th day of 2014. There are 157 days left in the year.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • No ticket for Shrek over loud musical, chief says

    A musical being performed in a New Hampshire park has drawn some noise complaints, but the deputy police chief says he’s “not giving Shrek a ticket.”

    July 26, 2014

  • Arizona Execution Dru_Rich copy.jpg Arizona’s McCain: Execution was torture

    U.S. Sen. John McCain says the execution of an Arizona inmate that lasted two hours was torture.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ukraine Plane_Rich copy.jpg US: Russia firing into Ukraine

    Russia is launching artillery attacks from its soil on Ukrainian troops and preparing to move heavier weaponry across the border, the U.S. and Ukraine charged Friday in what appeared to be an ominous escalation of the crisis.
    Russia accused Washington of lying and charged Ukraine with firing across the border on a Russian village. It also toughened its economic measures against Ukraine by banning dairy imports.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP7107260254 copy.jpg Today in History for Saturday, July 26, 2014

    Today is Saturday, July 26, the 207th day of 2014. There are 158 days left in the year.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mideast Iraq_Rich copy.jpg Iraq elects new president amid attacks

    Iraqi lawmakers elected a veteran Kurdish politician on Thursday to replace long-serving Jalal Talabani as the country’s new president in the latest step toward forming a new government. But a series of attacks killed dozens of people and Islamic militants destroyed a Muslim shrine traditionally said to be the burial place of the Prophet Jonah, underscoring the overwhelming challenges facing the divided nation.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hong Kong Shutdown_Rich copy.jpg Hong Kong firms on edge as blockade looms

    As activists vow to shut down Hong Kong’s financial district in protest at China’s attempt to hobble democratic elections in the city, businessman Bernard Chan is preparing for the worst.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

Do you agree with the millage rate increases?

Yes. We need to maintain services
No. Services should have been cut.
     View Results