Report: Engineer fell asleep before trains collided

- The engineer of one of two trains that collided in central Florida last Wednesday admitted to investigators that he fell asleep shortly before the crash, according to a report.   

The trains, loaded with coal and phosphate rock, derailed near Citra, sending at least 30 train cars tumbling over.  Both crew members on one of the trains received minor injuries; the others escaped unharmed.

According to an incident report released on Tuesday by the Marion County Sheriff's Office, the engineer operating the northbound train stated to a deputy that he had fallen asleep.  

The freight trains, owned by Jacksonville-based CSX Corp., hit each other about 4:15 a.m. on Nov. 16, leaving crumpled cars filled with coal lying off the tracks.  One of the locomotives also spilled diesel fuel in the area.

"The derailment at Citra, Florida remains under investigation and CSX is cooperating fully with the Federal Railroad Administration and all agencies," said CSX spokesperson Kristin Seay. "Together, we are focused on assessing all of the information gathered to date and identifying the cause."

The phosphate train was traveling to Chicago with three locomotives and 100 loaded cars, authorities and the company said. The coal train, also with three locomotives, was headed to Tampa with 110 loaded cars. Each train had two crew members.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection issued a public notice of pollution, saying the derailment caused the release of approximately 1,346 tons of coal, 1,150 tons of monoammonium phosphate (fertilizer), 7,400 gallons of locomotive diesel fuel, 77 gallons of sulfuric acid from locomotive batteries, and 10 gallons of locomotive lubrication oil.

"The product release did not affect a local waterway or known potable water source," a statement from the FDEP read. 

The FDEP said there was no known threat to public health or safety.



Some information taken from the Associated Press.


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