Train Accident Near Columbia Could Lead to Criminal Investigation
On January 27th, a train carrying dangerous and toxic chemicals derailed in Allendale County, about 90 miles southwest of Columbia, the state’s capital. The train was moving between Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia. Investigators have still not said for sure if they will conduct a criminal investigation into the causes of the train accident, but on Wednesday, February 4th, authorities announced they would award $10,000 to anyone with information concerning the people involved in or responsible for the train accident.
The January crash in Allendale County forced the evacuation of an industrial plant in a rural area of South Carolina, and injured several people. About a week later, local police officials stated that the FBI had taken over the criminal investigation of the train accident, although some added that this was a routine federal investigation.
“When we first got the story, it almost sounded like two rail cars just flipped over. No indication of anything, and we were told no major spills. Nothing really going on,” said Rick Gooding. Gooding is a radio show host and a big voice in the Allendale community. “Several of our callers are concerned about water and it getting in the ground water and stuff, and everybody would kind of like to know what’s going on because to start with, it was played off as really no big deal here.”
The train accident occurred when a CSX train ran off its main track and into the side rail, where another train was parked. The train crash split open a few tanker cars, and spilled 19,000 gallons of hydrochloric acid, as well as 4,000 gallons of fuel. Reportedly, a switch on the train track may have been misaligned, which caused the first train to veer into the second. According to Tom Allen, head of the Office of Regulatory Staff’s railroad division, the switch was manual, which means someone would have had to move it for it to be misaligned.
A conductor and an engineer were injured in the train accident, but walked away from the scene. More frightening was the fact that the spill occurred so close to the Savannah River. The train accident also has eerie similarities to a Graniteville train accident 10 years ago, when a locomotive veered onto a side track and hit some parked rail cars, spilling chlorine. In that accident, some of the victims died; fortunately, in the Allendale County accident, there were injuries but no deaths.
Train Accidents in South Carolina
A train accident can be caused by several factors:
- Crossings that are obstructed by vegetation or other objects
- Limited visibility on the part of drivers or train operators
- The negligent actions of train operators, such as approaching crossings without their lights on and horn sounding
- Unsafe train conditions, including machinery or train parts sticking out, over-sized loads, and crossings that rely only on signs or lights and do not have working safety arms
A driver approaching a railroad crossing must decide if they have enough time to cross before the train approaches. Many drivers make the mistake of believing their car can “beat” the train, a race that the car usually loses. Drivers think that large objects such as trains are moving slower than they actually are and often misjudge how close a train really is. This bad judgment often results in a train accident that causes serious injury or even death to drivers and passengers.
The Strom Law Firm Defends Victims of Train Accidents
Our train accident lawyers are prepared to fight for compensation in the courtroom and will defend your right to compensation for past and future medical bills, lost wages and future earnings, pain and suffering, and any claim for wrongful death in the event of a fatal train accident. Contact the South Carolina accident attorneys at the Strom Law Firm, L.L.C. today for a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case and how we can help. 803.252.4800