Train Derails In Early Morning Accident

July 13, 2004 -- Posted at: 7:00pm CDT

NEWARK, AR - An accident in Newark around 2:00am caused three locomotives and multiple cars to criss-cross the railroad tracks. Mary Riley and her husband were startled awake by it.

"He first thought it was thunder, you know, and that's what he thought it was, but then he didn't hear no thunder no more," explained Riley.

The Missouri and Northern Arkansas Railroad train derailed on tracks across from Newark City Hall.

Thomas Gillean, a Newark resident, said, "It's the biggest thing that's happened around here, since the tornado came through a few years ago."

Gillean added that cars have been hit by trains, and a few small derailments have happened, but nothing like this. The train was carrying grain, and was supposed to end up in newport and connect with the union pacific railroad, but never made it.

Scott Hulstrom, a spokesperson for the railroad, explained, "The crew was stopping here to set out some cars here at a local industry, Townsend's, and they were actually going to perform some work here."

Ron Hansen is the feed mill manager at Townsend's of Arkansas. He couldn't talk with us on camera, but he did explain that railroad officials told him a switch on the main rail line was in the wrong position. It sent the train itself into a side rail area. That impact sent four rail cars down the track to Townsend's. The driver of a piece of machinery on the same track jumped off just before impact.

Scott Hulstrom did confirm there was something wrong with the switch, but added that may not have been the only problem.

"The investigation may take up to a week, because there's some things that we have to put together, and until we can take a look underneath the locomotives and those types of things we won't be for certain," added Hulstrom

No one was injured during the accident. The locomotives and cars could be removed, the tracks repaired and trains running again by Monday evening.