Forty-four passengers and crew have been impacted as a result of a train accident near Fayetteville, Ark., on Oct. 16. Of those, 39 were able to walk away from the accident while five were critically injured. One of the injured people was a conductor; he was airlifted away from the accident after having suffered what are believed to be injuries to his back. This individual may need to contact a FELA claim lawyer after he is treated to make sure his legal rights are protected.
The two trains collided near Brentwood, a sparsely populated unincorporated community located about 15 miles south of Fayetteville, a city of 70,000 that is home to the University of Arkansas. A passenger train had stalled on the tracks before a second train that had been sent to assist struck it head on at about 10:40 a.m. CDT.
Fourteen of those who were hurt that morning were taken to Washington Regional Medical Center, a 366-bed acute care hospital located in Fayetteville. According to spokeswoman Gina Maddox, all of them were in stable condition hours after the accident, an improvement on the situation earlier in the day as all of the critically injured people had been sent here. However, each of these injured individuals will likely still be looking for the services of a railroad accident attorney in the coming hours and days.
Between Brentwood and West Fork, a small city with a population of 2,000 that is located about 8 miles to the north of Brentwood, U.S. 71 was completely blocked off due to the large number of emergency vehicles that crowded the road that morning. These included vehicles operated by Washington County Emergency Services, a hazardous materials unit from Fayetteville and a number of local fire departments.
According to the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, the road reopened at 1:30 p.m., a little less than three hours after the FELA railroad accident and about 90 minutes after the final injured parties had been taken to nearby medical facilities.
The collision appeared to have taken place between U.S. 71 and the train tracks that are located to the west of it in a wooded area. In that general area, the West Fork of the White River runs near the railroad tracks. However, it was initially unclear if that waterway was affected by the 300 gallons of diesel fuel that appeared to have leaked as a result of the accident. Four railway cars and two engines were damaged in the crash as well.
The train that had been stopped on the tracks was an excursion train that is regularly operated by the Arkansas and Missouri Railroad. This company is based in Springdale, Ark., a city located immediately north of Fayetteville. According to the organization’s website, a train departed Springdale at 8 a.m. for a 135-mile “scenic excursion through the Boston Mountains with a three-hour layover in downtown Van Buren for lunch and shopping” before returning. The round-trip journey was expected to take eight hours.
The Arkansas and Missouri Railroad is a Class III railroad that offers rail car freight business in addition to scenic passenger journeys on refurbished antique cars such as the cars that were taken on this day. In fact, this company owns the tracks on which the accident occurred as well as the second train that had been attempting to provide support for the first one.
The passenger train operations manager for the company, Brenda Rouse, did not provide further comment on the collision other than to say that it was under investigation.
Individuals from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board were expected to arrive in northwest Arkansas later in the day to investigate the crash as well.