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COLTON, CA – Six rail cars of a Union Pacific train jumped the tracks and tipped over in Colton, CA on Tuesday, October 18, 2011 and then struck another BNSF train running alongside it on parallel tracks.

Six rail cars of a Union Pacific train derailed in Colton, CA on October 18, 2011 and then struck a BNSF train running on tracks next to it. Photo credit: ABC News 7

Colton is located in San Bernardino County, California in the southern part of the state about 56 miles due east from Los Angeles and about 106 miles north of San Diego.


The derailment and subsequent train collision occured around 2:10 a.m. early Tuesday morning when a southbound Union Pacific train was moving through along a curved section of track that runs under Interstate 10 between Rancho Ave. and La Cadena Dr. The streets that are closest to the curved section of track are 5th and 6th Streets.

Map showing location where 6 rail cars of a Union Pacific train jumped the tracks on the curved section of track under the I-10 in Colton, CA between 5th and 6th streets.

For some reason, six rail cars jumped the tracks and tipped over, then moments later, collided with the BNSF train that was running alongside on parallel tracks.

The accident caused some concern because one or more cars contained toxic material and officials were worried about spillage. As a precaution, two schools were shut down while Hazmat technicians, railroad safety officials and Caltrans personnel assesed the situation.

The two schools that were shut down for the day were Colton High School and Wilson Elementary School. Classes were cancelled for Tuesday.

The I-10 was also closed down in both directions for more than 3 hours between the 215 Freeway and Pepper Avenue. Not only was there concern for potential exposure to hazardous materials, but also there was additional concern that the wreck may have damaged the freeway supports near the accident site.

According to fire officials, one of the overpass supports was struck by the train, so they weren’t taking any chances until the freeway was inspected for damage and then cleared for traffic.

The freeway was reopened for rush hour traffic at about 5:40 a.m. but officials planned to temporarily shut down the freeway again later while the rail cars that tipped over were to be put back on the tracks.

Among the derailed cars were tanker cars. Some were transporting what was reported to be a highly corrosive material – which was the main concern for Hazmat personnel. Other materials reported being carried were ferric chloride and hot asphalt.

Officials were relieved that no leaks were found and soon afterwards, the freeway was reopened. But rail traffic was affected and the Metrolink had to cancel trains number 683, 803 and 805.

Officials are not sure what caused the train to derail, but the incident is currently under investigation.

Fortunately no injuries were reported and no railroad workers were injured in the mishap.

FELA Lawyer News Blog is a FELA, train accident and personal injury blog that publishes up to date train accidents and FELA legal news from across the United States. The Federal Employers ‘Liability Act, (FELA) allows injured railroad workers to recover compensation based on the negligence of the railroad company, in lieu of workers’ compensation. FELA defines negligence as the railroad company’s failure to use reasonable care.

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