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WRIGHTSVILLE, AR – A Little Rock man was killed Sunday when a rail cars from a Union Pacific freight train derailed and toppled over onto his car while stopped at a rail crossing in Wrighstville, AR.

Two rail cars flip over and land on a passenger car, killing the driver in a Union Pacific train derailment in Wrightsville, AR on Sunday, March 20, 2011.

Wrightsville is in Pulaski County, Arkansas in the central part of the state, about 14 miles southeast of Little Rock.

The victim was identified as Robert Graham, 60 years old from Little Rock. He was stopped at the railroad crossing inside his passenger car, a white Ford Focus, which was crushed underneath the derailed rail car.

The accident happened about 6:15 p.m. Sunday evening, march 20, 2011 at the railroad crossing on 145th Street between Highway 365 and Interstate 530.

The mishap is currently under investigation by officials from Union Pacific.


Officials do not know why the train derailed. In a news video at the KTHV website Pulaski County Sherrif Doc Holladay said,

We’re trying to determine, working with Union Pacific Railroad personnel, to determine what caused the accident. Whether it was a malfunction of the train or whether the individual drove into the side of the train and caused the derailment.

In the news video, according to Sherrif Holladay, the Pulaski County Sherriff’s Department will be taking the lead role in the investigation and will be working with Union Pacific to determine the cause of the accident.

A total of 5 rail cars jumped the tracks in the incident. Two of the rail cars flipped over and one of them landed on top of the victim’s car. Even though the two cars were empty at the time, they weigh 33 tons each. Union Pacific had to bring in cranes to lift them off the crushed vehicle.

Location of Union Pacific train derailment on Wrightsville, AR at a railway crossing on 145th Street between Highway 365 and Interstate 530.

The train had departed from Little Rock, Arkansas and was heading toward Pine Bluff.

No railroad workers were injured in the mishap and, fortunately, no other injuries have been reported. Also there were no hazardous materials involved so there were no evacuations in the area.

A HAZMAT team was called in at first, but declared the area clear of any hazardous material.

A section of 145th Street was closed between Highway 365 and Interstate 530 while crews repaired the tracks and cleaned up the site of the accident. As of Monday morning, the intersection was still closed.

Railroad crews had to make repairs to the tracks and to the equipment that runs the crossing signs.

Around 6:37 a.m. the next morning, the first train passed through the crossing since the derailment the evening before.

The tracks were not officially reopened, then, but railroad officials hoped to have the tracks opened by noon, Monday.

Published by FELA lawyer Gordon, Elias & Seely, LLP

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