Investigation into train wreck continues

Locked wheels possible cause of derailment


— Union Pacific investigators haven't found the cause of a train derailment in Oak Creek that took seven cars off the track, but officials feel certain that one car was the culprit.

Neil Scott, a manager for Union Pacific, said parts of one particular car were sent to the company's lab in, Omaha, Neb., for further investigation.

He said officials figure that one set of trucks on a car, which has four wheels, somehow locked up. That caused the wheels to drag on the track, flattening them out and causing the crash.

However, it may take time to know the certainty of the cause or the reason the wheels locked, Scott said. But he was confident that it was an isolated event.

"This is not common at all," he said. "This is maybe the second one I've seen in all the years I've been at Union Pacific."

Each train has sensors that detect heat in the wheels. Therefore, if something goes wrong the engineers usually know before any trouble happens. Scott didn't know why the problem wasn't spotted earlier.

At around 12:30 p.m. on Sept. 29, Oak Creek residents heard the crashing of seven cars coming off the track. The train derailed on Sharp Avenue right in the heart of the little town.

No one was hurt, but crews worked all night and most the next day to clean up the scattered cars and debris.

The crossing on Sharp Avenue is still closed.

"That was the worst one I've ever seen," Scott said.

To avoid any problems in the future, Union Pacific officials approached Oak Creek Chief of Police Dan Kelliher and the town's mayor, Deb VanGundy, about buying out of their responsibility of the crossing.

That would release the company from the responsibility of maintaining the crossing, Kelliher said.

Union Pacific spokesman Mike Furtney couldn't find any definitive deals in the works, but said that it is common for the company to sell crossings.

At an Oak Creek town meeting late last month, VanGundy mentioned the sale to the trustees in passing, but the board didn't make any decisions on the matter.


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