[SeMissourian.com] Mostly Cloudy ~ 76°F  
River stage: 28.75 ft. Rising
Friday, May 29, 2015

Workers scramble to clean up after two trains collide

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

This view shows cleanup operations of Saturday's train crash from the edge of Route M looking toward the southwest Monday, May 27, 2013 near Rockview, Mo.
(Fred Lynch)
ROCKVIEW, Mo. -- The site of the Route M overpass in Scott County was a beehive of activity Monday as more than two dozen workers cleared rail cars, damaged automobiles and tons of mangled metal from the site of a cargo train collision.

Seven people were hurt -- none seriously -- in the crash, which occurred about 2:30 a.m. Saturday.

On a sunny Memorial Day afternoon, at least seven backhoes, cranes and endloaders operated simultaneously to clear debris.

Workers from R.J. Corman Derailment Services and Budrovich, a heavy equipment company, coordinated efforts. The fruit of their labors was readily apparent: A pile of twisted metal taller than the top of a backhoe sat next to a large, open area where a section of track had been removed.

The bridge decking had been cleared away, and rebar protruded from the broken concrete remnants of each end of the collapsed overpass.

Demolished vehicles removed from railcar wreckage are seen along the tracks on Monday, May 27, 2013 near Rockview, Mo.
(Fred Lynch)
Heavy equipment tracks crisscrossed the bare soil where the track had been as workers used a backhoe and a forklift to remove a still-drivable pickup truck from the top level of a rail car that had been transporting vehicles.

More than 20 cars in various states of damage were lined up along the right of way next to the track, and upended rail cars lay along the shoulder of Route M leading to the overpass.

Official information was scarce Monday, but a worker at the scene estimated at least 20 different contractors had been on the scene at one point.

The overpass collapsed after a Union Pacific train struck a Burlington Northern Santa Fe train, derailing several rail cars and knocking down one of the bridge's support pillars in the process, the National Transportation Safety Bureau reported.

Mark Davis, director of corporate relations and media for Union Pacific, referred questions to the NTSB.

Destroyed rail cars line Highway M near Rockview, Mo., Monday, May 27, at the site of a train collision that destroyed an overpass on the highway. The overpass collapsed after about two dozen rail cars that smashed into the bridge's support pillars when a Burlington Northern Santa Fe train and a Union Pacific train collided about 2:20 a.m. Saturday, May 25.
(Adam Vogler)
"The investigation's still ongoing," NTSB spokesman Terry Williams said Monday. "Investigators will probably still be there for another three to four days."

Williams said investigators had gathered the information they needed from the crash site.

"We've gathered the information that we need in terms of our documentation, and we've turned it back over to them," he said, referring to the two railroad companies whose trains were involved in the collision.

Robert Sumwalt, an NTSB board member, has said it could take up to a year for investigators to analyze the information and reach a conclusion.

In a Sunday news conference posted on ntsb.gov, Sumwalt said the conductor and engineer on the BNSF train initially were unaware it had been hit.

"For the first few minutes after the collision, all the BNSF crew was aware of was that their train had gone into emergency braking," which happens whenever a train loses air pressure, he said.

Sumwalt said the conductor told investigators he thought an air hose might be loose and discovered the aftermath of the collision when he exited the train to see why it was braking.

Cleanup continues Monday, May 27, at the site of a train collision that destroyed a highway over pass in Scott County. An overpass on Highway M near Rockview, Mo., collapsed after about two dozen rail cars that smashed into the bridge's support pillars when a Burlington Northern Santa Fe train and a Union Pacific train collided about 2:20 a.m. Saturday, May 25.
(Adam Vogler)
The point of impact was about a dozen cars back from the three locomotives, Sumwalt said.

He declined to speculate on the reason for the collision, saying the cause was still under investigation.

"What we can say factually is that the BNSF train was struck about a dozen cars back," Sumwalt said. "How did that happen? Why did that happen? That's what our investigation is trying to find out."

Investigators downloaded signal records, photographed and measured the bridge, and recovered camera data from locomotives, he said.

A camera on the BNSF train's third locomotive -- which was facing backward -- gives a clear view of the bridge, Sumwalt said.

Salvaged train wheels are lined up along Route M on Monday, May 27, 2013 near Rockview, Mo.
(Fred Lynch)
"What that camera does show is it shows the bridge, it shows the bridge collapse, and it shows the cars on the bridge," he said.

The bridge, which is 367 feet long, was constructed in 1988 and was most recently inspected Feb. 25, when the Missouri Department of Transportation rated it a seven on a scale of one to nine, Sumwalt said.

The Federal Highway Administration considers a seven to be good condition, he said.

Two of the five spans on the overpass collapsed after a rail car hit a support column, Sumwalt said.

"It had a rail car basically wrapped around it in somewhat of a 'U' shape, and it collapsed as a result of that collision," he said.

A salvage crew removes a new vehicle from a damaged railcar Monday near Rockview, Mo.
(Fred Lynch)
The pillar had been hit once before, in January, but was inspected and found to have no structural damage, Sumwalt said.

According to an Associated Press report, a MODOT engineer estimated the bridge replacement cost at $3 million.

"The damage is very extensive," Mark Shelton said. "We're going to end up removing the entire bridge and completely replacing it."

He said the bridge is expected to reopen in early September.



Pertinent address:

Route M near Rockview, Mo.

Fact Check
See inaccurate information in this story?

Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. If you feel that a comment is offensive, please Login or Create an account first, and then you will be able to flag a comment as objectionable. Please also note that those who post comments on semissourian.com may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.

Did both engineers claim to have green signals? How fast was the UP train going at impact? Were any of the trainmen hurt!?!

-- Posted by TheCamp on Tue, May 28, 2013, at 1:44 AM

These stories will be released at the proper time.

-- Posted by Dexterite1 on Tue, May 28, 2013, at 5:42 AM


It is common knowledge that parties do not want to release additional information that may place them at fault and result in litigation.

Therefore, the standard reply to your questions are:

Question 1) On going Investigation,

Question 2) On going Investigation and

Question 3) Yes, but the names or extent of injuries will not be released because of On Going Investigation...

-- Posted by UFO on Tue, May 28, 2013, at 6:18 AM

Whew...at least the white GMC pick-up I ordered is still good as new.

-- Posted by That's a Fact! on Tue, May 28, 2013, at 7:13 AM

TheCamp your questions will not be answered until months from now when the final report is released by the NTSB.

-- Posted by swampeastmissouri on Tue, May 28, 2013, at 7:56 AM

It is Awesome we have Skilled Operators to Clean UP the Mess Hope they get the JOB to Rebuild the Bridge

-- Posted by falcon2412 on Tue, May 28, 2013, at 8:50 AM

This is bs. Injuries are extensive on at least one of the victims! Just say what we have heard from reliable sources - an engineer fell asleep

-- Posted by muthatrucker on Tue, May 28, 2013, at 9:36 AM

I know at least three former semissourian reporters that would have reported the answers to my questions (and more) within 24 hours of the accident.

-- Posted by TheCamp on Tue, May 28, 2013, at 1:48 PM

TheCamp out of due respect regardless who you know as reporters when the NTSB is involved on an investigation such as this one, all of that will be available when they see fit and the investigation is complete. Nothing can be released while the investigation is underway because they are still gathering the facts before it is released to the Public.

-- Posted by swampeastmissouri on Tue, May 28, 2013, at 2:42 PM

My questions do not need NTSB approval to be reported in America.

-- Posted by TheCamp on Tue, May 28, 2013, at 4:02 PM

It's nearly impossible to get any information even on a small fender bender and this is multimillion in damages. I wouldn't expect to many answers until the lawyers have been sufficiently padded and the insurance companies have been given everything they need to pass the buck.

-- Posted by malan on Tue, May 28, 2013, at 5:07 PM

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration:

Map of pertinent addresses