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Derailment investigation continues | Preston Citizen

Derailment investigation continues

January 30, 2013
By

By ROBERT S. MERRILL 

Assistant editor

Investigation into a fatal truck-train accident, which caused a derailment of 16 cars of a Union Pacific freight train near Dayton on Jan. 9, is still open.

A cleanup process of damaged cars started last week and will continue this week, according to a Union Pacific employee who was at the scene on Friday.

A northbound Union Pacific train derailed west of Preston at approximately 10 a.m. that Wednesday morning and a fatality occurred, according to Idaho State Police. A Franklin County dump truck driven by Heber Lee Lewis, 56, of Preston, was headed eastbound on State Highway 36, when it impacted the train on the west side crossing.

Lewis died on impact. He had worked for Franklin County for 33 years.

The crossing where the accident occurred is equipped with flashing red lights that were functioning properly at the time of the accident, said ISP officials.

Crews from Union Pacific and Staker Parson Construction pull a box car from the borrow pit at the spot of a train derailment near Dayton on Friday. Crews had to work in below zero temperatures and blowing snow conditions trying to repair and salvage the cars.

ISP Sgt. Mike Winans said fog apparently was a factor in the morning accident. An accident reconstructionist and other investigators have viewed video footage from the train’s locomotive and it revealed extremely foggy conditions on the west side of the tracks that morning, but things were not so bad on the east side, he said.

Winans said it appears the train crew’s actions did not have anything to do with the crash. He said the train’s engineer said it was traveling about 45 miles per hour at the time of the accident. The track is rated at 60 mph with a 50 mph speed limit.

This story is sponsored by Smokey Joe’s Pizzaria.

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