Train derails in Summers Co., 3 CSX crew members injured

Published: Mar. 8, 2023 at 6:38 PM EST
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SANDSTONE, W.Va. (WVVA) - An early-morning train derailment sent three CSX crew members to the hospital early Wednesday morning, as an empty train fell off the rails after reportedly colliding with a large boulder outside Sandstone in Summers County.

“Shortly before five am this morning a CSX train was proceeding through this area. A large very large boulder detached from the rock face, landed on the right of way,” said Bryan Tucker, Vice President of Communications with CSX. “It derailed the train.”

CSX reported the three injured crew members were expected to make a full recovery as of Wednesday.

“Fortunately our three crew members will be okay,” said Tucker. “They’re safe.”

CSX reported four locomotives and 22 empty cars left the tracks as a result of Wednesday’s derailment -- out of a total 109 cars connected to the involved train.

For locals, the incident didn’t derail their routine -- but did conjure images of February’s toxic train wreck in Ohio.

“It’s not a constant thing in our mind,” said resident Sam Richmond. “It is on everyone’s minds because of the incidents in Ohio. This is’s not operator error or weather related, other than it is a natural act that can take place on any railroad in mountainous areas.”

With a locomotive and tanker landing in the New River however, diminishing the impact on the world’s second oldest river and moving forward with cleanup remained top priorities on Wednesday.

“The first priority is containment,” said Tucker. “The fire needs to be extinguished and then we can start removing the cars, the locomotives and repairing the track. And we’ll do that as swiftly and as safely as possible, but right now we’re focused on that containment.”

The cause of Wednesday’s derailment -- gravity and bad timing. Or as Tucker put it: “Purely a natural-caused derailment. An act of God, if you will.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, CSX reported there was no immediate timeline to resume operation on the tracks.

In the meantime, W.Va.’s Emergency Management Division reported cleanup efforts are CSX’s responsibility. However the Sandstone Volunteer Fire Department was acting as the scene’s primary first responder in the aftermath.

W.Va.’s Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Health and Human Services’ Bureau for Public Health were on-scene Wednesday as well, as they continued to monitor the New River’s water, along with any other potential health risks.