Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Wreck update

Bright and early this morning, well around 9 am, a knock on the door and interviews with the NTSB representative who has officially taken over the investigation, and then the BNSF representative 30 minutes later. Don't know what I could tell them, I didn't see anything only heard the crash.

They have recovered two bodies, and are searching for the third. It's officially moved from a rescue to a recovery. I was talking to one of the crane operators this morning, and he said that all four men were assumed to have jumped, the engineers first and then the conductors after brakes had been set to slow the trains somewhat. They were hoping to find injured men under crumpled but not burning wreckage, you know, one of those miracle rescues you see after earthquakes and bomb explosions.

Last night was sleepless. 4 billion watt floodlights so they could work to clear the wreckage through the night. Coupling cars, moving debris, BEEPBEEPBEEP, BOOM, CRUNCH, BOOMBOOMBOOM, BEEPBEEPBEEP.... but this morning, the standing cars had been cleared from the tracks and they had started on the crumpled wreckage. I have to applaud the heavy equipment operators, the cranes, the backhoes, the guy that operated the claw thingy that delicately and meticulously picked apart and set aside barely recognizable pieces for the investigators to study.
It was truly remarkable. The guy with the Forklift From Hell that picked up intact boxcars and set them on the tracks and then gently smacked their little bottoms to scoot them out of the way for the next boxcar. The crane operator that picked up the piggyback trailers and set them expertly on the tops of the boxcars. Max and I stood there for probably half an hour watching from across the field before he reminded me that we were there for his walkie not for my lookie.

Continued prayers for the families of the men who lost their lives, and thanks to the first reponders who worked long hot hours to keep a huge accident from turning into a disaster.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update. Sometimes just what you heard can help when put together with all the other information. Updated my NTSB listserv subscription to include rail in addition to aviation and marine.

Andrew said...

Glad you're okay and didn't have to do the bug-out boogie.

Might try wearing shooting earplugs to bed if it continues.

1776vtgmb said...

Here goes. Train signals. Green means nobody in the block ahead of the block ahead.
Yellow means somebody in the block ahead of the block ahead... slow to 'approach' speed, prepared to stop at the next block. Red means somebody in the block ahead, stop. If you roll through this signal, you lose your job.

Here's the bad news.

If the trains were headed at each other and passed the signals at the same time, they BOTH could have seen a yellow... and started to slow down, prepared to stop at the next signal.... and run into each other before either one got to the next signal.

The big question is why they were both on the same track. The dispatcher should have seen this, I think??? It was a double track stretch of railroad, right??

Anonymous said...

1776, I'd dispute that double yellow scenario. Ruling out some kind of major equipment failure, I don't think it's possible with station to station blocking. For every 20 mph increase in speed on any territory, there's an additional set of rules and needed equipment involved. They pretty much had the full meal deal at the speeds authorized on their territory. Or so is my limited understanding. ---Tim

Anonymous said...

thanks for the update, Wise Angel One...when I passed thru yesterday,it was a mess, but an organized mess...hats off to all the clean up crews and their skill and perserverence.....and yes, continued prayers to all the families who lost loved ones....we have a close friend who lost her brother, and another friend who has the son of one of those lost who works for him on a ranch...all are trying to cope, all need any support we can give....

vaquero viejo

Rob said...

Crane operators rock!
I changed a main gear box on a Coast Guard HH-52A at Station Ft Point, almost under the Golden Gate bridge. We used a crane to hang the gear box.
The shackle assy used to get the crane's hook small enough to fit thru the lifting eye on the Jesus nut was bigger than the gear box.
The gear box sat on 4 mounts. You set it down, mounted it & torqued it up, then took the torque off. Then you measured for shims, cut the shims to fit & removed the gear box. You put the shims on & put the gearbox back on the helicopter & repeated the measuring process, the tolerance was somewhere in the thousands of an inch (.005?),like that.
That crane operator was good! I needed that gear box a quarter inch to the left & it went a quarter inch to the left. Most impressive! It's always great to watch someone good at their profession do their job.

Thank you for the update!