Two BNSF Employees Injured In Train Collision, Derailment

The derailment occurred south of Pacific Junction near Marh Ave.

Mills County Emergency Management drone photo taken Friday morning of the derailment scene. A total of 16 cars from two trains and a pair of locomotive engines were thrown from the tracks when an empty coal train ran into the back of a non-moving mixed freight train. An engineer and conductor on the coal train were hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad crews gather Friday morning on east side of derailment site near Marh Ave.

The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad is continuing its investigation into a derailment in western Mills County Friday morning that left two BNSF employees hospitalized for treatment of non life-threatening injuries.

The derailment happened around 7 a.m. south of Pacific Junction – east of Interstate 29 near Marh Ave. The collision occurred when an empty northbound coal train hit the back of a mixed freight train that was sitting stationary on the tracks. A total of 16 cars between the two trains and two locomotive engines pulling the empty the coal train were thrown from the tracks.

The two persons hospitalized were an engineer and conductor on the coal train.

BNSF crews have been on the scene since Friday morning inspecting damage and coordinating clean-up efforts.

“There were a couple engines that derailed and the cars that derailed were mostly grain. I believe it was corn,” Mills County Emergency Management Director Larry Hurst stated on Monday. “There were cars that did not derail that did have some liquid (ethanol) in them.

“My guess is they’re going to disengage those cars and get them away from that incident scene. At one point, they’re going to get that cleaned up and they’re going to move those cars down the track.”

Mills County Emergency Management Specialist Gabe Barney said cars on the stationary train that were determined to be undamaged were moved away from the scene.

The line of track where the derailment occurred, near Keg Creek, sustained damage during Missouri River flooding in 2019. The track was repaired after floodwaters receded. The track and damaged cars will be thoroughly inspected, Hurst said.

“I don’t know how much damage was done to the rail,” he said. “They’ll inspect the track and inspect the cars – brakes and everything. They’re going to want to make sure they’re safe to move.”

Hurst said the speed of the traveling train and other matters related to the derailment will be determined through the investigative process.

“When they’re in investigative mode, just like a pipeline or an airplane crash, they won’t release information until the investigation is completed,” he said. “I do know when you have something that heavy moving, it’s tough to get it stopped.”

First responders from several local agencies assisted at the scene of the derailment, including fire and rescue personnel from Glenwood, Pacific Junction, Silver City, Oak Township and law enforcement officers from the Mills County Sheriff’s Office, Iowa State Patrol and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad.

The Opinion-Tribune

116 S Walnut St Glenwood, IA 51534-1665
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Phone: 712-527-3191
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