Train slams into box truck hauling batteries

Truck driver escapes with head wound; cleanup crews remove broken batteries as Ohio EPA monitors scene
Shawn Foucher
Aug 1, 2014

 

A Garfield Heights man suffered little more than a head wound Friday morning when a train slammed into his box truck at the Vermilion Road railroad crossing.

The collision sent the truck's haul — a few dozen industrial truck batteries — showering across the road and the nearby gravel easement, prompting city officials to close down multiple railroad crossings as haz mat crews and the Ohio EPA descended on the scene. The truck driver — Jacob Koenig, 27 — was taken to an area hospital, where medical staff sutured his wound before sending him on his way just hours later, according to his co-workers and people at the crash scene.

Vermilion police refused to provide many details about the incident, as they were still gathering information late Friday, although they did confirm Koenig was the involved truck driver. Koenig was driving an International truck north on Vermilion Road when at about 11 a.m. the vehicle was a struck by an eastbound Norfolk & Southern train at the crossing near Bulan's Boatyard, police said.

It's unclear if the crossing gate was operational when the truck drove over the tracks, and Vermilion police would provide no information on the matter. At the crash site, however, a broken crossing gate was seen lying on the ground near the tracks. Given that the collision obliterated just about every battery in the truck, cleanup crews estimate upwards of 60 gallons of sulfuric acid spilled onto the ground.

The incident prompted the city to shut down railroad crossings at Vermilion Road, as well as Main, Adams and Grand streets.

The Vermilion Road crossing was expected to remain closed throughout Friday night. "Basically, every battery was broken on impact," said Linda Oros, an Ohio EPA spokeswoman. "There was half a gallon to a gallon (of acid) in each battery." Oros said the bulk of the cleanup was expected to wrap up by 9 p.m. Friday. Late in the afternoon, crews from Vermilon-based SpillTek Environmental Services were still loading broken batteries into large plastic drums. The crews were also gearing up to apply baking soda to the ground to help neutralize the acid, Oros said.

The train was rerouted to a nearby rail yard, where another haz mat crew cleaned any acid spatter off the engine and any train cars, Oros said. Koenig is a driver for Harris Battery in Cleveland, according to officials at the scene. Dave Pidgeon, a representative from Norfolk & Southern, told a reporter he would call back with any information on the incident, but by late evening he had not returned a call.

Comments

knowitall

I wonder if anyone was charged?

JOATMON

The batteries might have been.

knowitall

Good! You caught my pun.

JMOP's picture
JMOP

So the truck driver kept going, and going, and going?

knowitall

Good one.

Dispute Lite

Don't all trains have a 'dash cam' type system on them? If so try May be reviewing that footage to determine if the gates malfunctioned or if the truck drove around the gates. Glad the driver was not seriously hurt.

Steamer84

I believe its Norfolk Southern. There is no "and" in the name.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Reminds me of an old Bob & Tom skit about a freight hauler called "Norfolk & Waypal" (the "and" is quite deliberately pronounced) which had the slogan of something like "You want it delivered on time? There's Norfolk-and-Waypal that we're gonna do it!"

EDIT: Here's the "commercial" - http://youtu.be/OuNLLn23nUA

knowitall

Got it. Took me about 3 times reading every letter.

Not too much to comment about on this one! Lol.

Statealltheway

Thanks for sharing the link! I got a good laugh out of that!

Steamer84

I was thinking of that skit too!

gene44870

I am sorry . But to be honest . If the gate was destroyed . You can bet it was working . And second . It tells me that the driver should count his blessings and the state should take his licends from him . Not to mention his boss should fire him .
There is no excuse for car/truck and train wrecks.the trains are loud. Not to mention they all have air horns as well as lights on the front.

deertracker

You are right. Driver error here obviously!

gene44870

I am sorry . But to be honest . If the gate was destroyed . You can bet it was working . And second . It tells me that the driver should count his blessings and the state should take his licends from him . Not to mention his boss should fire him .
There is no excuse for car/truck and train wrecks.the trains are loud. Not to mention they all have air horns as well as lights on the front.
I think I know what happened . He was either in a big hurry because it was Friday and he was wanting to start the weekend or he was talking or texting while driving and not focusing on the road .

Wld Coyote NRP

Wow,Judge & Jury both. Aren't you being a little harsh not really knowing the facts in the accident? Was the gate previously broken,was he ill,was the
engineer asleep? Those *#$% truck drivers again......

Clawbar9

Register Editors: Please update your style book. It is Norfolk Southern Corporation (www.nscorp.com), there is not, and has never been, an "and" or ampersand (&) in the name. It is an understandable error, however, as the predecessor company in this area was the "Norfolk and Western."