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JACKSON TOWNSHIP, IN – A CSX train derailed in Jackson Township, Indiana on Wednesday, June 16, 2020, then a worker was killed when a crane toppled onto him a day later during the cleanup effort.

Officials make their way east, down the track, towards the wreckage of a CSX train derailment between Mander Road and C.R. 400 E. in Jackson Township. Photo credit: Kevin Nevers

Jackson Township is located in Porter County in the northwestern part of the state, about 25 miles east of Gary, Indiana and about 158 miles northwest of Indianapolis.

The derailment occurred about 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday between Mander Road and County Road 400 East. The derailment shut down the Old Suman Road grade-crossing on Wednesday until the front portion of the train could be separated and moved down the track.

Carla Groleau, a spokeswoman for CSX, said that the The train was travelling from Chicago to Cleveland. Fourteen cars derailed out of a 42-car train in the mishap. Most of the rail cars were “well cars” that carried double-stacked semi boxes.

No one was injured in the original incident and no hazardous material was released.

Location of CSX train derailment in Jackson Township between Mander Road and C.R. 400 E.

According to Lt. Chris Eckert of the Porter County Sheriff’s Police, the stretch of track south of Mander Road, which posts a 50 mph speed limit, has been the site of several derailments in the last 10 years.

The victim who was killed was identified as Michael Bowling, 43 years old, from Dyer, IN. He was a derail supervisor with Cranemasters Inc. out of Hammond, Indiana.

According to an article at the Chesterton Tribune website, Bob Byrd, the Deputy Coroner from Porter County said that Bowling died instantly of “multi-system trauma.”

Cranemasters was one of several contractors who were at the scene of the derailment responding with heavy equipment. On Thursday, June 17th, 2010, Bowling was overseeing the clearing of rail cars and containers when the crane became unstable and fell on him.

In this unfortunate and tragic accident, Cranemasters was clearing the wreckage and some how the crane became unstable and tipped over and crushed Mr. Bowling.

View of the derailed rail cars looking south from the overpass at Highway 6

Fortunately no one was reported as injured in the original train derailment.

Although the cause of the derailment has not yet been determined, it remains under investigation by the Federal Railroad Administration. Eckert reported on Thursday that their initial determination was that track misalignment was the “probable cause.”

No one was injured in the original incident and no hazardous material was released.

There are three townships adjacent to each other. Lberty township is to the northwest and Washington Township is adjacent to the south. According to Liberty Fire Chief Bill Branham, The Liberty Township and Washington Township volunteer fire departments were dispatched to the scene along with a haz-mat team dispatched by the Porter County Environmental Department.

Below is a Google street view of the section of track involved in the derailment looking down the tracks from North Old Suman Road towards Mander Ave. Old Suman Road crosses the tracks between Mander and County Road 400 East, the area of closure just after the derailment.

View Larger Map

According to the Chesterton Tribune, Branham said the firefighters were searching for haz-mat leakage. In a coordinated effort, Liberty Township firefighters took the north side of the tracks and Washington Township firefighters took the south side.

Nothing was found except for a small amount of something that “looked like paint” from one of the semi boxes.

Published by fela lawyer Gordon, Elias & Seely, LLP

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