Woman injured after train derails

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

Rescue personnel were called out on Sunday night when another train derailed.

The train, operated by Meridian & Bigbee Railroad, derailed on Highway 41 around 9:40 p.m., just a couple of miles north of the Jan. 19 derailment. According to Capt. Mike Stokes of the Selma Fire Department, six of the boxcars carrying wood chips overturned and another derailed, but remained upright. The railroad signal was rendered inoperable after being crushed by one of the boxcars.

Email newsletter signup

“Something needs to be done and someone needs to be held accountable,” County Commissioner Roy Moore said.

According to Public Information Officer Trooper John Reese, Turkesa Sullivan was traveling south on Highway 41 when her car became wedged under an upright boxcar sitting on the tracks.

According to Stokes, the Jaws of Life had to be used to free Sullivan from her car.

“Her car from the dash to the front bumper was under the rail car,” Stokes said. “She was still conscious and alert when they took her out to the ambulance.”

Sullivan was airlifted to Jackson Hospital in Montgomery where she, according to Reese, was in stable condition as of press time.

According to Reese and Emergency Management Agency Director Pam Cook, there were no hazardous spills, but Cook reported that hazardous chemicals were on the train “three cars down from the derailed ones.”

Not only did the derailed train cut off the flow of traffic on the highway, it blocked access to the only road that leads to the home Hunter Todd Jr. Todd, 58. Todd lives just behind the tracks said he was sleeping when the train came through.

“It was louder than thunder,” Todd said of the sound of overturning cars.

Todd said his cousin Christine, 78, who is also his neighbor, called him saying that the windows in her house shook.

“Even the trees were shaking,” Todd said.

A temporary access road had to be made for Todd and his neighbors until the overturned cars and mounds of wood chips could be removed.

During a previous derailment that blocked the same roadway, Todd said he and his cousin, both diabetics, were unable to leave their property for three days. It was imperative that he have access to the roadway today.

“I had to get to CVS to get a refill,” Todd said. “If I hadn’t gotten there, I’d have been in a world of hurt.”

Because of all of the dozers and heavy machinery going across their property, Todd said he nor his cousin had landline phone service, but he does have a cell phone.

Many county officials and citizens speculate that the derailment was caused because the railroad has been poorly maintained.

According to Stokes, the Sheriff’s Department, Pioneer Electric and two ambulances along with railway representatives all responded to the site.

According to Reese, the cause of the derailment “is still under investigation.”

M&B Service Operations Manager Don Vincent could not be reached for comment.