Monday, March 17, 2008

BNSF Train Wreck in Marysville, WA

I heard the news as soon as I got up this morning to drive to work. A Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight train had collided with a tractor trailer truck near Marysville, WA.

After attending a meeting, I got back into my car to drive back to Bellingham. As I came through Marysville on I-5, I could see a news helicopter hovering a short distance off to the east. It was clear that the wreck was quite near the interstate. So I got off at the next exit and headed toward the hovering copter.

I didn't have to go very far. There in front of me was the train. Two locomotives were completely off the track, with one coming to rest just inches from the State Avenue roadway.

There was a small crowd of onlookers. We all had to stay back behind the police barriers that had been set up. But we still had quite a view. Above is the view from the 130th Avenue grade crossing, just north of the incident.

Here's the story. At approximately 5:40am local time on Monday, March 17, 2008, a northbound BNSF freight train collided with a tractor trailer carrying a load of frozen pizza. The train crashed through the trailer, the cab having already cleared the grade crossing near Pacific Grinding Wheel just north of Marysville, WA. The locomotives pushed the trailer until it caught on a billboard on the east side of the right-of-way, at which point the three locomotives and one box car derailed, tearing up the track.

The train, bound from Pasco, WA to Vancouver, BC was mostly empty and there were no hazardous materials on board. The crossing had a stop sign but there were no gates or flashing lights. The news reported that the driver said that he misjudged the distance and speed of the train. Luckily, no one was seriously injured.

By the time I got there, the cleanup had been underway for several hours. But the lead locomotive was still covered with insulation from the trailer as well as boxes of frozen pizza.

By late Monday afternoon, BNSF was estimating that work would continue until well past midnight and didn't expect the rail line to be reopened until at least 3am on Tuesday morning.

I shot a bit of video with my Canon SD600 Digital Elph. (Important tip: Always carry a camera.)

I was also interviewed by a reporter from KIRO News, the local Seattle CBS affiliate. A small piece of that interview ran as part of this evening's 6pm newscast.

There are additional photos on my Flickr site.

Here are some additional links: