HUNT VALLEY, MD – The conductor of a light rail train was injured Tuesday morning, March 23, 2010 when a trailer truck collided with the train in Baltimore County, Maryland. The truck accident happened in Hunt Valley, near Cockeysville, where the railroad tracks intersect with Gilroy Road. The accident area is in the north part of the Baltimore metro region, 110 miles southwest of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and 63 miles north of Washington, DC.
Shortly before 9:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, March 23rd, a tractor trailer truck owned by Laurel, MD based John W. Ritter Trucking Company was headed north on Gilroy Road in Baltimore County, MD. The truck was driven by 53 year old Mark Szurek who was headed to the McCormick’s Hunt Plant in Hunt Valley, hauling a load of plastic containers.
When the driver of the 18 wheeler reached the plant he attempted to enter by making a right hand turn against the signal, crossing over the railroad tracks of Maryland’s Light Rail line.
The truck driver crossed the tracks directly in the path of a southbound train. The train conductor was unable to stop to avoid an accident and slammed into the trailer truck. The train then pushed the semi truck down the track for several hundred feet, causing the trailer to break open and spill its cargo of plastic containers. The lead car of the train was heavily damaged in the truck accident and was believed to be completely destroyed.
A small gray Honda which was behind the trailer truck was also involved in the truck accident, rear ending the back trailer of the semi truck. The Honda’s driver has been identified as 45 year old Elliot Schoen.
The impact of the truck collision trapped the train conductor in the crushed lead rail car. The conductor has been identified as 51 year old Deborah Morton. Local emergency personnel responded to the truck accident scene and worked to extricate her. It would take workers almost thirty minutes to get the train conductor out of the demolished train car.
Once free she was stabilized at the scene and then transported by medical helicopter to Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. There were no reports on the extent of Ms. Morton’s injuries, but they are believed to be non life threatening.
The driver of the tractor trailer truck was not injured in the truck accident and refused medical treatment at the scene. The Honda driver was also uninjured and turned down treatment offered by EMTs.
There were seven passengers on the train at the time of the truck accident. Two riders were taken to the Greater Baltimore Medical Center with minor injuries.
The truck accident closed down the rail line for a long period of time, interrupting the rail service between Hunt Valley and Timonium. It would take workers more than nine hours to pry apart the wreckage of the train and 18 wheeler truck.
The Maryland Transit Authority said that trains on the line would be turned around at Timonium, and buses would carrier riders to Hunt Valley. The delays would continue into Wednesday.
Officers with the MTA and their Safety Division as well as the Baltimore County Police are investigating the truck accident. They have not determined what led to the truck accident with the train. At this time it appears that the safety signals were all operational and in good working order. However, there are no safety gates at the Gilroy Road intersection and some witnesses in the area say it is a dangerous spot.
Charges are pending against the truck driver, Mr. Szurek. The truck accident remains under investigation.
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