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September 10th, 2010

Union Pacific Train Accident Leads to Amputation of Conductor’s Arm in California

Railroad investigators continued their probe today into what caused two trains to collide near Interstate 10 in Fontana.  A surgical team amputated the arm of a railroad conductor Friday to free him from the wreckage of a locomotive that struck a slow-moving freight train on tracks 50 miles east of Los Angeles, California.  The slower-moving freight train, comprised of 100 cars, was heading east, carrying a load of I-beams.  The beams went through the engine of the Union Pacific train, pinning the conductor.

In addition to the I-beams, several hundred gallons of propylene glycol, a nonhazardous chemical used in automobile anti-freeze and airport de-icing machines, spilled.  The train wreck alongside eastbound lanes of Interstate 10 at Cherry Avenue created traffic gridlock for more than four hours.

A conductor and engineer were in the cab of the 69-car westbound Union Pacific train when it struck a 100-car Union Pacific steel hauler being pushed out of a rail yard onto the main line for an eastbound run.  The California train collision caused several train cars to derail.  The force of the train collision caused the locomotive to be pushed up on top of a freight car.


Catastrophic Train Accident Injuries

Two railroaders were injured in this California train accident.  Both the conductor and engineer were trapped inside of a locomotive leading to injuries.

Firefighters were unable to free the trapped train conductor from the wrecked locomotive.  The conductor was trapped for so long and pinned so severely that a surgical team from Arrowhead Regional Medical Center was brought to the site to amputate his arm.  He has since been hospitalized and is now listed in critical condition.  Thankfully, the Union Pacific train conductor is expected to survive.  The engineer was injured slightly.

Computer data will be examined to determine the speed of the trains at the time of impact.  Local agencies report little damage to the track, but for now all train traffic has been rerouted.


FELA and Railroad Injuries

Nearly 600 railroad companies operate nationwide in the United States over vast amounts of railway track.  Train derailments and accidents are frequent occurrences, and in these accidents, passengers, innocent bystanders, and railroad employees are killed, disfigure, or injured.

The railroad industry and its associated jobs are fundamentally dangerous.  Railroad workers deal with heavy machinery in an unsafe setting.  Under the FELA, an injured railroad worker must show negligence to win his case, unlike state workers compensation laws, which are in essence no-fault.  If the injured railroad or railyard employee is able to show that a railroad company such as Union Pacific failed to provide a safe place to work, he may be able to recover a large sum for his damages.

Common railroad worker injuries include:

  • Back injuries
  • Neck injuries
  • Chemical exposure
  • Asbestosis, mesothelioma and other asbestos injuries
  • Upper and lower extremity injuries
  • Burns

If you or someone you know has suffered a severe railroad injury, please call a FELA Lawyer with experience handling such cases.  While many lawyers advertise for railroad injury claims, very few are skilled enough to handle them.  The lawyers for personal injury of Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers have handled railroad accident cases nationwide for over 45 years.  We will speak with you confidentially about your situation and give you our best advice even if you do not decide to hire a lawyer at all, so contact us today.

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