Hwy. 41 railroad tracks being repaired

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

Workers continued cleanup efforts at the site of the derailed train on Highway 41.

By 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, the six overturned boxcars had been removed from the tracks following the Feb. 25 wreckage that left mounds of woodchips piled by the side of the highway. The overturned boxcars knocked out power to the railway warning signal.

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According to Public Information Officer Trooper John Reese, Turkesa Sullivan had to be airlifted to Jackson Hospital in Montgomery after her car became wedged under an upright boxcar sitting on the tracks. As of Monday night, Sullivan was in stable condition.

The derailment was the second within less than two months. The first derailment this year happened on Jan. 19., just a few miles away.

According to Reese and Emergency Management Agency Director Pam Cook, there were no hazardous spills Sunday, but Cook reported that hazardous chemicals were on the train &8220;three cars down from the derailed ones.&8221;

The smell of the wood chips was strong in the air and twisted metal and broken cross ties from the tracks laid by the wayside on Tuesday as railway workers made repairs. The massive piles of wood chips and gravel remained alongside the tracks.

Hunter Todd Jr., who lives just behind the tracks, had the only roadway to his house blocked when boxcars fell across the tracks. A temporaray roadway was made so that Todd and his neighbors had access to the highway.

Many county officials and citizens speculate that the derailment was caused because the railroad tracks have been poorly maintained, but efforts to contact representatives from Meridian & Bigbee Railroad for comment have not been successful.