Two freight trains collided early Saturday morning, collapsing a highway overpass near Chaffee, Mo.(Photo: Cape Girardeau Fire Department)
Katharine Lackey, USA TODAY
Seven people were injured early Saturday morning in southeastern Missouri after two freight trains collided, taking out a nearby overpass.
A Union Pacific train t-boned a Burlington Northern train at an intersection, Scott County Sheriff Rick Walter told KFVS-TV. The collision, which occurred around 2:30 a.m., caused one of the trains to derail and hit a pillar under the overpass, collapsing it.
There were no cars on the overpass when it collapsed, but Trooper Clark Parrott of the Missouri Highway Patrol said two vehicles crashed after coming upon the bridge after it had fallen.
Five people from those cars were taken to the hospital with arm and ankle fractures. A train conductor and locomotive engineer on the Union Pacific train were also injured. Six of the victims were treated and released. A seventh remains hospitalized in good condition.
One of the drivers, Christopher Cantrell, 22, said he didn't see the bridge had collapsed until it was too late.
Wayne Woods, a bystander who rushed to the scene of the crash, said, "I heard the crash and stepped outside, and my son said the overpass was down. Then we heard car's tires squealing like it was coming to a stop and a crash, and a horn continuously blowing ... When I got over there, the train was on its side."
At least a dozen Union Pacific train cars and an unknown number of Burlington Northern cars derailed in the accident.
The Union Pacific train was hauling auto parts from Salem, Ill., to Arlington, Texas, according to Union Pacific spokewoman Calli Hite. The Burlington Northern train was hauling scrap metal, the company said.
The crash, which occurred near Chaffee, Mo., also ignited a fire that crews were able to extinguish quickly.
The National Transportation Safety Board has been dispatched a team to investigate the incident.
The collision comes just two days after a span of an Interstate 5 bridge over the Skagit River in Washington collapsed - caused when an oversized truck hit an overhead girder - and just over a week after a commuter train derailed in Bridgeport, Conn., suspending rail service along the heavily traveled New York-Boston corridor.