Runaway rail car kicked loose by teen hits New York station

AP News
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Posted: Jul 31, 2015 4:29 PM

UTICA, N.Y. (AP) — Video surveillance footage released Friday shows a rail car that was accidentally set in motion by a 13-year-old boy ramming an antique locomotive into a train station, sending passengers waiting for a train scrambling for safety.

Oneida County officials released the footage as they called on federal rail regulators to explain how a 265,000-pound rail car left unattended for two weeks could be unlatched by a teenager playing on the car, according to the account of the July 21 accident that the teen gave to Utica police.

"I understand that the Federal Railroad Administration has concluded that proper procedure was followed," County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. said. "That is astounding."

Video cameras at Utica's Union Station show the New York, Susquehanna and Western freight car barreling down on the county-owned facility during the evening rush. Seconds later, a camera on the station platform shows the car hitting the 100-year-old locomotive and ramming it through a station wall.

Passengers milling about the platform while waiting for an Amtrak train dash for safety as a cloud of dust overtakes them. The Amtrak train arrived minutes later and departed soon after.

Police said the teenager told them he accidentally kicked the rail car's latch while playing on it, causing it to break loose and travel than more a mile through Utica, in central New York. A video camera facing away from the station shows the car rolling past three people walking along the tracks. Seconds later, the rail car hits a vehicle, slightly injuring the driver, before slamming into the locomotive.

The locomotive and rail car won't be removed until Monday. County officials estimated the repair costs from the accident will top $1 million.

"There was significant danger to our citizens, and there is significant damage to our train station, and someone is responsible and it isn't the taxpayers of Oneida County," Picente said.

In response to Picente's questioning of safety procedures for unattended rail cars, the Federal Railroad Administration helped investigate the accident and said its inspector found "no indications that the train crew that delivered the train car to the private company violated any federal securement regulations in this incident."

A message left with the Cooperstown, New York-based NYS&W wasn't immediate returned.

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This story has been corrected to show the footage was released Friday, not Thursday.