WASHBURN, ND – The conductor of a train was killed after becoming trapped when two engines derailed and fell into the Turtle Creek about 3 miles south of Washburn, North Dakota. Washburn is located in central North Dakota about 40 miles north of Bismarck, 44 miles north of Mandan, 229 miles west of Fargo and 280 miles west of Grand Forks.
The engines derailed after an embankment gave way from under the train. There were two railroad workers involved in the train accident. One died at the scene and the other was taken to a hospital in Bismarck where he was treated for a laceration. The body of the deceased railroad worker was removed from the scene of the accident about 4:30 pm. The names and ages of the two railroad workers have not been released. No other railroad workers were reported to have been involved in the accident.
The fatal train accident occurred about 11:46 am Thursday, March 25, 2010 on the banks of Turtle Creek near the Painted Woods Golf Course in Washburn. Five Dakota Missouri Valley & Western Railroad engines were on their way from Bismarck to Max, ND when two of them derailed. The base beneath the tracks collapsed causing the engines to tip over and roll down the embankment onto the banks of Turtle Creek below the tracks.
The conductor apparently saw that the bank was gone and attempted to stop, but was unable to stop the train in time. It was reported that the railroad worker who survived stayed inside the train after the bank gave way. He was able to get out of the engine afterwards. It is believed that the man who was killed tried to jump from the train when the ground began to collapse. He was in the lead engine at the time.
Several pieces of heavy equipment, including cranes, had to be brought in to lift the engines and clear the tracks. There was some diesel fuel leakage as a result of the accident. Officials at the scene were determining the extent of the fuel leakage. A spokesman for the state Health Department’s division for water quality reported that there was no immediate threat to Turtle Creek. Absorbant containment plumes were put across the mouth of the creek and across the sandbar to contain any leaking fuel.
A railroad spokesman said that 49 cars were attached to the engines and about 38 cars were hauling agriculture products. These cars did not contain hazardous material and did not derail. Leaking diesel fuel was the only hazardous material authorities were concerned with.
The railroad company had to get the two locomotives out of the hole and then rebuild the grade. Repair crews are currently working out how to make the necessary repairs. It is estimated that it can take 6 to 10 days before the line is back in operation.
The Federal Railroad Administration is investigating the train accident.
Gordon, Elias & Seely, LLP, is a top nationwide FELA lawyer law firm representing railroad workers injured on the job who need experienced lawyers knowledgeable in the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA). FELA is not workers compensation and it governs the employee’s right to recovery or, unfortunately in this death, FELA governs the rights and remedies of the family members. For more information about FELA and FELA rights, contact Fred Bremseth, an experienced North Dakota FELA lawyer, through Gordon, Elias & Seely, LLP for expert advice. Call toll free 800.773.6770.