The Randolph County Sheriff's Department is working with the West Virginia Public Service Commission (PSC) to determine how a logging truck collided with a passenger train at a Rt. 250 crossing on Cheat Mountain near the Randolph and Pocahontas county line Friday, Oct. 11. The crash killed the driver of the truck, who has been identified as Danny Lee Kimble Sr. of Bartow, WV.
During its investigation, the PSC will reconstruct the weight of the logging truck to help determine how the accident occurred, according to Lawrence Messina, of the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety.
Messina said the cab of the truck suffered severe damage and said the PSC may not be able to reconstruct the brakes. According to Messina, the truck was inspected two days before the crash and said nothing was cited on the truck during the inspection.
A total of 23 people were treated for injuries sustained following the accident. One woman, who had been at Ruby Memorial Hospital since the crash, had been released as of Monday, Oct. 21, said Messina. All of the other train passengers who had been hospitalized at Ruby Memorial Hospital or Davis Memorial Hospital were released prior to Oct. 21.
Messina said the PSC has jurisdiction to investigate due to the fact that the logging truck was involved and said that the accident does not meet criteria for the National Safety Board to investigate. The PSC said it will forward its findings from the investigation to the Randolph County Sheriff's Department.
According to Messina, the State Rail Authority owns the tracks where the accident occurred, and said that based on the damage, it is believed that the tracks can be fixed within four days. Messina also said that the train cars were not totaled and are believed to be repairable as well.
Authorities have identified the driver who died after his logging truck collided with a passenger train at a crossing in West Virginia.
The Randolph County Sheriff's Department said the log truck driver killed in Friday's accident was Danny Lee Kimble Sr. of Bartow, WV.
Chief Buster Varner of the Bartow-Frank-Durbin Volunteer Fire Department said Kimble Sr. was pronounced dead at the scene of Friday's accident along U.S. Route 250. Varner also said he spoke to Kimble's son Saturday morning, according to the Associated Press.
The train carrying 63 sightseers and four crew members was on a fall foliage trek about 160 miles east of Charleston. Two passenger cars flipped on their sides after the impact.
Lawrence Messina of the W.Va. Dept. of Military Affairs and Public Safety said three people remain at Ruby Memorial Hospital. Two are in fair condition and one is in serious condition.
Tracy Fath, director of marketing and development at Davis Memorial Hospital, said one person remains at Davis Memorial Hospital in stable condition.
U.S. Route 250 south reopened early Saturday morning.
Messina said he thanks state and local officials for their help, as well as the train's engineer who ran a quarter mile to get help after the accident.
Messina said the department is working with the Public Service Commission. It would be working with the National Safety Board but it is not operating due to the partial government shutdown.
He said the trains will be taken to a train yard in Belington.
A log truck collided with a train on Cheat Mountain near the Randolph and Pocahontas county line around 1:30 p.m. Friday.
A log truck failed to stop at a railroad crossing at the U.S. Route 250 crossing at Cheat Bridge on Cheat Mountain and hit a train with people on board, said John Smith, President of Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad. The log truck made no effort to brake before it ran through flashing railroad caution signals and crashed into two passenger cars of the Cheat Mountain Salamander, which overturned in the accident, said Randolph County Sheriff Mark Brady. The driver of the truck was declared dead at the scene and the truck is a total loss, said Brady. Sheriff Brady identified the log truck as belonging to H & H Fisher LLC of Pocahontas County. An autopsy will be conducted on the truck driver.
The 67 people on the train were transported to Davis Memorial Hospital. Nineteen people were transported by ambulance and 43 people with minor injuries were transported by school bus to Davis Memorial Hospital, said Randolph County Office of Emergency Services Director Jim Wise. The degree of injuries range from slightly injured to critical, Wise said. Twenty-two people sought treatment at the hospital and three of those people were admitted into the hospital, said Tracy Fath, director of marketing and development at Davis Memorial Hospital. Two of those three people were in serious condition, and one was in stable condition. Four patients were transferred to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown; three of those people are in serious condition and one was stable, said Fath.
Officials said medical helicopters, such as HealthNet, were unavailable due to weather. Snowshoe Resort President & CEO Frank DeBerry said the resort sent one emergency medical vehicle with equipment offering assistance at the scene. Heavy machinery from Webster County is being brought in to assist with clearing the scene, Wise said. Ambulances from across the region including Randolph, Upshur, Belington, Durbin, Cass, Pocahontas, Shavers Fork, and Marlinton assisted in transporting the patients, Fath said.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin issued a statement following the fatal accident Friday, "Our thoughts and prayers are with all those involved and the emergency responders working the tragic accident in Randolph County this afternoon. My administration is working with all agencies involved to ensure the first responders and emergency managers on the ground are receiving the assistance they need."
W.Va. 511 said to expect delays in the area of Rt. 250. It is shutdown indefinitely, said Jim Wise.