MCPHERSON, IA – Two BNSF railroad workers were killed in a train crash in McPherson, IA when one train rear-ended another on Sunday, April 17, 2011.
McPherson is located in Montgomery County, Iowa in the southwestern part of the state about 124 miles southwest of Des Moines.
The accident happened about 5 miles west of Read Oak, IA at around 7:00 a.m. in the morning when one eastbound train hauling coal ran into the back of another eastbound train carrying maintenance equipment.
Both the engineer and the conductor of the coal train were killed in the collision. None of the railroad workers on the other train were injured in the incident.
According to Gus Melonas, spokesman for BNSF, the names of the deceased railroad workers have not been released, pending family notification, but according to an article in the Creston News Advertiser, they were both from Creston.
Melonas commented about the accident in the article:
This is an extremely tragic situation for everyone involved.
The 130-car coal train was heading towards Chicago with a load of coal from Wyoming. The other train was pulling 34 cars of maintenance equipment heading towards Creston, IA from Bridgeport, NE.
Ten rail cars on the maintenance train and one of 3 locomotives on the coal train derailed in the mishap. According to the railroad company, both trains had two-member crews.
The crash started a fire that caused damage to both trains and created a huge pileup of twisted wreckage and debris. The accident also shut down the tracks for a period of time. The Red Oak Fire Department was brought in and quickly put out the fires.
There is an adjacent track near the crash site. One of the tracks had been cleared by Monday so rail traffic was able to get moving again. Amtrak passenger service was affected and traffic had to be temporarily rerouted.
Passengers from the California Zephyr train were forced to be transported around the crash site by bus from Galesburg, IL to Omaha, NE. An Amtrak spokesman said that Amtrak service would return to normal by Monday afternoon.
The cause of the crash is currently under investigation. A seven-member Federal team from the National Transportation Safety Board is among the investigators.
Published by FELA lawyer Gordon, Elias & Seely, LLP