One Dead, Four Injured As Trains Collide In Texas

Two trains have collided head-on, killing an engineer and injuring four other crew members in a fiery wreck that derailed almost two dozen freight cars.


GUNTER, Texas (AP) -- Two trains have collided head-on, killing an engineer and injuring four other crew members in a fiery wreck that derailed almost two dozen freight cars.

A National Transportation Safety Board team arrived Thursday to investigate the crash that closed a major rail line north of Dallas. More than 20 cars lay in a mangled heap of steel after the collision about 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Names of the victims have not yet been released, said Joe Faust, a spokesman for Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp.

U.S. Department of Transportation officials were also on the scene early Thursday.

One of the injured men suffered severe burns and was taken by medical helicopter to a Dallas hospital, said Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Rebecca Uresti. Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. A condition was not yet available from Parkland Memorial Hospital.

The other three victims were taken to Wilson N. Jones Medical Center in Sherman. The men are all in stable condition, said hospital spokeswoman Karis Schirmer.

The collision of northbound and southbound trains spilled rock and other materials from freight cars across a field north of Gunter as the cars landed in accordion fashion across the tracks.

The fatality had been aboard the southbound train, Uresti said. Officials were withholding his name pending notification of relatives.

The injured were located inside the train cars, but the engineer who died was found about 50 feet from the wreckage, according to the Sherman/Denison Herald Democrat's Thursday editions.

Rail cars on one of the trains was empty, while the other was hauling rocks, said Lt. David Hawley of the Grayson County Sheriff's Department. No one was evacuated, but a hazardous materials crew was called to clean up spilled diesel fuel.

Faust said both trains belong to Fort Worth-based Burlington Northern Santa Fe. He said a team from Burlington Northern was traveling to the rural crash site about 50 miles north of Dallas.

At least one of the locomotives burned and flames spread to grass and other nearby vegetation. The southbound train had 24 cars and three locomotives. The number of cars on the other train was not immediately available.

Faust told the Herald Democrat that the trains could have been traveling at 45 mph or faster through the rural area.

How two trains ended up on the same track in a collision course wasn't immediately known. One official said in broadcast reports that he believed human error caused the crash.

Television footage showed about 20 cars off the tracks.

The collision is the second this month in Texas.

On May 3, two freight trains collided on a Union Pacific track just south of downtown San Antonio, injuring three people.

Two locomotives and 12 freight cars from one of the trains derailed, with both engines and five of the cars falling into the San Antonio River. About 5,600 gallons of diesel fuel was spilled into the river, according to a UP spokesman.

Last week, 15 empty coal cars and two locomotives of a Burlington Northern Santa Fe train were derailed by a tornado in the Panhandle town of Hartley. No one was injured in the incident, but one of the cars ended up about 300 to 400 feet away.