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Derailment closes road

June 29, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Seven cars of a CSX freight train derailed near a crossing on Eastern Boulevard Monday, forcing motorists to find detours.

Because of ongoing cleanup efforts, Eastern Boulevard near Security Road was expected to remain closed to traffic until this afternoon, authorities said.

Longmeadow Volunteer Fire Department Deputy Chief Justin Mayhue said the derailment caused no injuries or hazardous conditions.

Local authorities and firefighters received reports that several cars on a CSX train derailed within a few feet of Eastern Boulevard just after 5:45 p.m.

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Scattered along the rocks surrounding the track were pieces of twisted steel, railroad ties and train cars that had rolled onto their tops. Four of the seven derailed cars were completely off the track.

Other cars and the train's three locomotives remained on the track.

CSX spokesman David Hall said the train, which serves several customers in the Hagerstown area, included three locomotives and 48 cars. He said the seven derailed cars were carrying paper goods.

Hall said it was premature to speculate on the cause of the derailment. He said company inspectors began investigating late Monday.

"That can take days or weeks," Hall said.

He said it had not been determined whether the cars were operable or would have to be removed by other means.

Hall said no additional information was available late Monday.

Hagerstown Police Department Sgt. David Long said Eastern Boulevard was scheduled to be closed to traffic until at least noon today as a result of CSX's cleanup efforts.

John Lewis, of Maugansville, said during a telephone interview that he was in line, about four or five vehicles behind the crossing gate, when the train passed through.

Lewis said two or three of the cars "just started wobbling." Then they derailed and the rest of the train stopped soon afterward, he said.

Even though the entire train cleared the intersection, vehicles on both sides of the crossing had to go back the way they came because the crossing gates stayed down, Lewis said.

Security Road resident Robert Semler said he watched the train cars fall over as he was sitting in his back yard with family. Semler said he was shocked because he had never seen or heard of a derailment nearby in his 35 years in the neighborhood.

His neighbor, Greg Kjosa, said there was no warning of the derailment that he noticed.

"I heard it coming like normal - You don't usually notice it," Kjosa said. "Then I turned around, and it wasn't normal anymore."

Staff writer Andrew Schotz contributed to this story.

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