Train track rebuilt, open to traffic after overpass collapse - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Train track rebuilt, open to traffic after overpass collapse

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Authorities say the Union Pacific train track has been rebuilt and is open to traffic after a train collision took down an overpass in Scott County early Saturday morning.

They say workers are gathering scrap metal and trying to salvage some of the vehicles being carried in the train cars.

According to authorities, the investigation could take up to a year. The bridge could be reopened by early September.

Seven people were injured Saturday morning in a massive train collision in Scott County that took down an overpass.

Officials say that around 2:30 a.m. there was a train crash near County Road 210 and Highway M in the Rockview community. The Highway M overpass collapsed on impact.

Scott County Sheriff Rick Walter says a Union Pacific train T-boned a BNSF Railway train that had just made it through the intersection.

The collision caused one of the trains to derail and hit a pillar under the overpass causing it to collapse. A dozen Union Pacific train cars derailed.

[SLIDESHOW: Trains collide in Scott County]

Trooper Clark Parrott with the Missouri Highway Patrol says two vehicles were not on the bridge when it collapsed. The cars came up on the bridge as it went down.

A MODOT spokesperson says the bridge in Rockview has been declared an emergency. He expects to have the engineer in place to start drawing a plan for the bridge by Tuesday.

As far as removal of the current bridge, there is no timetable. But, the MODOT spokesperson says the span weighs 371 tons, so it will be a major project.

Three people in one vehicle, and two people in another vehicle, were taken to a nearby hospital.

One of the drivers, Christopher M. Cantrell, 22, of Benton, Missouri, received minor injuries.

Two 19-year-old passengers, Victoria L. Cantrell and Sarah R. Ishmael, both of Chaffee, Missouri, received moderate injuries in the crash.

Christopher Cantrell says he did not see that the bridge had collapsed until it was too late. His car went airborne and then crashed. He says his wife, Victoria, has a broken leg and broken ankle.

Family of Vickie Cantrell says she and Sarah Ishmael were supposed to be bridesmaids in a wedding on Saturday, but due to injuries sustained they didn't attend the ceremony. 

The other driver, Larry J. Moore, 30, and a passenger, Angela R. Donley, 38, both of Chaffee, received minor injuries.

All seven patients were released from the hospital by Saturday afternoon. 

According to Union Pacific spokesperson Calli Hite, the train was hauling vehicles and auto parts from Salem, Illinois to Arlington, Texas. Two people from the Union Pacific train were pulled out of the wreckage and taken to a Cape Girardeau hospital. Hite says the injured people were the train's conductor and locomotive engineer.

According to a press release from St. Francis Medical Center, six of the victims were treated and released from the hospital early Saturday morning. A seventh victim remains hospitalized and was listed in good condition.

A fire broke out from a diesel fuel leak from the train engines, but crews were able to extinguish the blaze quickly.

According to a BNSF Railway spokesperson, that company's train was heading southbound, hauling scrap metal when the collision occurred. The spokesperson says an unknown number of BNSF Railway train cars also derailed, but no BNSF Railway employees were injured.

Union Pacific had 11 cars that derailed and and BNSF Railway had 13 cars derailed.

Highway M was closed in all directions from Scott City to Chaffee.

Missouri State Highway Patrol, local police, fire and ambulance crews responded from numerous surrounding areas.

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) officials held a news conference at the site at 4 p.m.

Robert Sumwalt with NTSB says he expects investigators to be on scene for about 4-7 days to collect the information needed.

Sumwalt says investigators have looked at the video recording all trains have and he called it pretty good video, because it shows everything up to and after point of impact.

That black and white video recording has already been sent off to Washington D.C. for others to take a closer look, according to Sumwalt.

Sumwalt said everything is in play for a cause at this point and they are not ready to commit to one thing.

"I feel very lucky that we have no fatalities involved," said Sumwalt. "It's still something that should not happen. Two trains should not be at the same place at the same time. Anytime we have something like that, we are very concerned about it. That's why we're here. We are here to find out what happened, so we can learn from it and keep it from happening again."

Union Pacific crews began cleanup around 5:30 p.m. Saturday evening.

A local man heard the crash around 2:30 p.m. Saturday morning.

"When I got over there, the train was on its side," said Wayne Woods. "They got the guys out and lifted them off the train, and got them off the overpass. One was kind of bloody; the other one looked like he was pretty shook up."

He heard the crash and called 911, who said they had emergency responders on the way from Scott City and Chaffee.

"I heard the crash and stepped outside, and my son said the overpass was down," said Woods. "Then we heard car's tires squealing like it was coming to a stop and a crash, and a horn continuously blowing. At that time, we were on the phone with 911 and trying to get out and block the traffic so no one else would go down into it."

This was the third train derailment in Rockview this year.

The first one was back in January. Investigators said high winds sent 48 cars off the track.

The train was carrying auto parts from Chicago to Mexico. No one was hurt.

Then, another derailment happened in April when five cars left the track.

No one was hurt, and nothing spilled on to the tracks.

Stay with Heartland News and for more details on this still developing story.

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