Freight train derails in Montgomery County

Posted at: 06/27/2013 9:14 AM
Updated at: 06/27/2013 5:26 PM
By: WNYT Staff

A freight train with about two dozen cars derailed in Montgomery County.
A freight train with about two dozen cars derailed in Montgomery County.
Photo: WNYT

FONDA - Most residents along Route 5 are accustomed to train noise, but what they heard just before 8a Thursday morning, was different.

"I heard a boom!  I thought it was an earthquake!," recalls Don McLean whose house overlooks the tracks in Montgomery County.

What McClean heard--and saw--was not however, a natural disaster.  It was a double train derailment that left 30 CSX cars on the side of and top of the tracks between Fonda and Palentine Bridge.

"Right now, we're not sure (what caused the wreck).  We have a couple conflicting stories and we're gonna wait until we get more information.  Originally we were told it was a head on, then it went to a side swipe but we're not positive yet," explains Montgomery County Sheriff Michael Amato.

Two people, the conductor and the engineer, went to the hospital with minor injuries.  There was initial concern that pellets that spilled from one of the cars were dangerous.  But after inspections from the air, the ground and even by a boat in the Mohawk River, all affected contents were deemed safe.  One car did contain chemicals but it was found, upright and still on the track.

"We have the manifest from both trains and everything that appears hazardous, they've checked those cars and they're not leaking and at this point don't present a problem," says Adam Schwabrow, Montgomery County's Emergency Management Director.

After the initial safety concerns were addressed, heavy machinery moved in to begin clearing the wreckage.  That was a sight in itself but the one ingrained in Don McClean's mind is the one he woke up to this morning.

"It was loud--the house wiggled...it's a pain in the butt, but what the heck."

It's unclear how long Route 5 will remain closed. 

According to Sheriff Amato, another CSX train derailed in Tribes Hill back in 2007.