Tuesday, September 05, 2000

What caused train crash?

16 freight cars upended; no one hurt

By Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Wrecked train cars blocked three sets of tracks.
(Tony Jones photo)
| ZOOM |
        Investigators Monday were trying to figure out why a CSX freight train slammed into another train in Northside, damaging two other trains and derailing 16 cargo and tanker cars.

        The wreck occurred about 8:15 a.m. Monday when a locomotive pulling 64 cars struck the rear of another train on a set of three tracks near Spring Grove Avenue and Dooley Bypass, north of the CSX rail yard. The tracks are between Interstate 75 and the Mill Creek.

        No injuries were reported.

        CSX spokesman Gary Wollenhaupt said some of the tank cars carried animal fat, while the freight cars carried automobiles and automobile parts.

        One of the tankers had previously carried sodium hydroxide, a corrosive chemical that can cause a burning or stinging sensation.

        Officials worried that remnants of the chemical might cause a hazardous-spill emergency.

        As a precaution, Cincinnati police closed I-75 from Central Parkway near Cincinnati State Technical and Community College to Mitchell Avenue for about two hours, disrupting traffic in both directions.

        Police reopened the highway about 11 a.m., after the fire division's hazardous materials unit checked for chemical leaks and found none.

        District 5 Fire Chief Tom Lakamp said 46 firefighters were on the scene for eight hours.

        No cause for the collision was determined, Mr. Wollenhaupt said, and the train's speed was not known. The engineer should have seen the stopped train ahead, officials said.

        Officials of the National Transportation Safety Board were notified, and are expected to participate in the investigation.

        Tracks in the area are used strictly for freight, Mr. Wollenhaupt said, and were damaged by the derailment. Workers will have to use a crane to upright and remove the cars, he said.

        The train that caused the collision had traveled from Chicago to Cincinnati. The train that was struck had 36 cars and was traveling from Walbridge, Ohio, near Tole do, to Louisville.

        The other two trains were stopped on the outer tracks, Mr. Wollenhaupt said.

        No estimate of damage was immediately available. Trains will have to be diverted until repairs can be made, officials said.

        Howard Wilkinson contributed to this report.


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