NewsCovering Colorado


National Transportation Safety Board releases preliminary report on deadly train derailment

Posted at 3:14 PM, Nov 02, 2023

PUEBLO COUNTY, CO — The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released its preliminary report about a deadly October train derailment that occurred just north of Pueblo along I-25.

The derailment occurred on Sunday, October 15, when 30 railcars carrying coal derailed at the bridge over I-25 near mile marker 109. According to the NTSB, the train, which departed Denver at 9:41 a.m. was making its way to La Junta. The train included two locomotives, three power units, and 124 hopper cars loaded with coal.

The NTSB says the track where the train derailed was a single main track with adjacent siding. The maximum speed allowed in that area of track was 45 mph. After review, the train was only traveling 32 mph at the time of the derailment.

While an official cause of the derailment is still being investigated, NTSB investigators inspected the following:

  • railcars
  • conducted interviews
  • reviewed train logs and imagery
  • recovered sections of rail to analyze at the NTSB Materials Laboratory

The NTSB says that the future of this investigation will focus on BNSF Railway's track maintenance and inspection procedures.
The NTSB says the derailment occurred near a track switch east of the railroad bridge at 3:24 p.m. that day. As the derailed railcars struck the bridge, six of the railcars dropped onto the northbound lanes of I-25. One of those railcars struck a semi-truck.

The driver of that semi-truck was identified as 60-year-old Lafollette Henderson of Compton, California. The train conductor and engineer were unharmed during the derailment.

Tractor Trailer under bridge
The driver of a tractor-trailer died when cars from a BNSF train came off a railway overpass on I-25 (October 15, 2023).

The railroad bridge's east side partially collapsed onto the interested below following the derailment. Reclamation efforts began almost immediately following the derailment with crews working 24 hours a day to open the interstate. Nearly four days after the derailment, all lanes of I-25 reopened.

At the time of the accident, the National Transportation Safety Board said a full detailed report could take between 1-2 years to be released.


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