Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Damn Shame

This is a damn shame. I was just reading this article about two Maryland girls who were killed when a CSX train derailed next to them. Apparently they were sitting on a railway bridge in Ellicott City, Maryland, tweeting away on their phones, when the train passed behind them and derailed, burying them in spilled coal.

Rose Mayr and Elizabeth Nass were both 19. Elizabeth's last tweet was "Drinking on top of the Ellicott City sign with @r0se_petals". They were very close to the Ellicott City Baltimore and Ohio Museum (featuring the oldest surviving railroad station in the USA) and it is prominent in the news footage.

The big question is why did the train derail right there? CSX is investigating and plans to resume service soon, once all the coal from the 21 derailed cars is cleared away. All that is known at this time is that the train was going at track speed of 25 MPH, an engineer-in-training was at the controls, the cars immediately behind the engines derailed, and the crew were unaware of any problems until an emergency braking application occurred (probably from a brake line separating).

It's easy enough to say that they should not have been there... but really, haven't we all been pretty close to the tracks? If you look at this image on Panoramio, it's clear that you could be on the station platform at the museum and be just almost as close to the tracks as the girls were.

I understand they were quite close to the tracks but I don't think a few feet farther away would have made much difference. As Marmie Edwards, a spokeswoman for Operation Lifesaver, said"It's probably just as well to stay away, not just to be off the tracks, but stay away from the train so you know you're going to be safe,"  she added . "Because it's hard to say, 'OK, here it's safe; there it's not.' So just stay away."

My condolences to the family and friends of these two young women.

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