Hunter Hills residents are still in shock after a CSX train derailed in their neighborhood, plowing through a home and injuring the sole person inside. Several streets in the neighborhood were also shut down as crews worked to clear the wreckage and federal investigators arrived to survey the scene.
The derailment is the fourth derailment for CSX since June of this year, raising concerns about the company’s safety standards and the dangers of our nation’s railroads.
CSX Train Crashed in Early Morning Hours as Residents Slept
The CSX train derailed at approximately 3:00 a.m. on October 5, 2017, as it made its way through the Hunter Hills neighborhood in northwest Atlanta. The train was en route from Waycross, Georgia, to Cincinnati, Ohio. Of its 191 railcars, 68 contained freight that included sand and carbon black used to make rubber tires. A total of 14 cars derailed within an eighth of a mile stretch of the railroad in the area.
Valerie Cox lives in the Hunter Hills neighborhood. She and her family were sleeping at the time of the derailment.
“It was a real loud boom,” Cox said in an interview with Fox5 after the incident. “Like something had exploded, that’s how loud it sounded.”
Sisters Savoni Campbell and Apryl Stinson also live in the neighborhood and initially misplaced the sound of the impact.
“I thought it was an earthquake,” Campbell said when speaking with CBS46. “When I came out, I saw the train, and I could see the sparks and everything coming from the train. It was so crazy.”
The two sisters live across the street from the only home hit by the derailed train and were the first to hear its occupant calling for help. Stinson was unable to locate the source of the cries in the darkness, and immediately called 911, saying “Send everybody because a train just went through this man’s house.”
Atlanta Train Derailment Pushed Retired Marine from His Home
The home the train hit is on Andrews Street, and the occupant was Deangelo Rivers, a 45-year-old retired Marine. Rivers was asleep in the bedroom of his recently remodeled home when the train derailed. He was pushed outside of the wreckage of the house and was found inside the rail car naked.
Jonathan Blackmon is Rivers’ neighbor. He and his uncle rushed to help him from the debris.
“Half of the car was in his house. He was in the car. So me and my uncle we went over there and helped him out,” Blackmon recounted. “So we helped him step the steps [of the railcar ladder], climb over and we held him from the back so he could come down the steps so he wouldn’t fall. He was like ‘help me man, please help me’.”
Rivers was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital, but, miraculously, sustained only minor injuries to his leg. Atlanta Fire spokesman Cortez Stafford emphasized how lucky Rivers had been.
“You’re sleeping in your bed, and you hear a large rumble and then you hear a large crash. So he’s very fortunate that’s he alive right now.’
Rivers’ home was nearly completely wrecked in the train accident, with a section of the house pushed all the way out the other side of the structure. With his residence unlivable, Rivers is reportedly now recovering in South Carolina with family members.
CSX Issues Statement on Train Crash
Area roads and some streets were shut down immediately following the crash, as CSX began to clear the wreckage and secure the scene, which they estimated would take until midnight of October 5, 2017, with railroad service resuming on Friday. Federal investigators arrived the afternoon of the derailment to begin what is likely to be a lengthy investigation into the cause of the crash.
CSX released this statement on the CSX train derailment in Atlanta soon after:
At approximately 3 a.m. today, a northbound CSX freight train derailed 14 railcars near the 1300 block Andrew Street NW in Atlanta, Ga. A nearby residence was struck by the derailed train and one person was transported to a local hospital for medical treatment. There are no reports of any leaks or spills of freight from the train. CSX personnel continue working with Atlanta police to ensure the safety of the public while developing a plan to remove the derailed cars and restore the scene.
The CSX train was traveling from Waycross, Ga., to Cincinnati, Ohio, with three locomotives, 68 loaded railcars and 123 empty railcars, carrying a variety of freight including sand, carbon black (used in tire manufacturing), and other bulk materials.
The cause of the incident will be investigated as part of the recovery effort.
CSX Train Derailment in Atlanta One of Several Recent CSX Derailments
This most recent derailment is nothing new for CSX, which has already experienced several derailments over the summer, prompting serious questions about the rail company’s safety record.
Thirteen cars of a CSX train derailed in the Howard Street Tunnel on June 12, 2017, and while 12 of the cars were empty, one contained acetone and resulted in a slow cleanup process and an FBI investigation.
Another CSX train derailed in Hyndman, Pennsylvania, on August 2, 2017, with 32 rail cars—some of which contained hazardous materials—derailing. There were no injuries in the derailment, but residents were evacuated as crews worked to secure the hazardous materials, including molten Sulphur, that spilled.
A third CSX train experienced a train derailment in Hardin County, Kentucky on August 12, 2017. Twenty-three cars derailed in that incident, but reportedly no injuries or spilled hazardous materials.
CSX also made headlines on July 17, 2017, when they were ordered to pay just under $4 million to the family of a woman killed by a CSX train during the filming of an unfinished film called “Midnight Rider.” The lawsuit alleged the CSX had not followed its company policy, failing to report that people were on the side of the tracks and not immediately braking upon impact.