NEWS NTSB preliminary report provides details of fatal NS accident in Alabama

Illustration of accident scene

Command trainee killed when metal object pierces locomotive cab during meeting

Illustration of accident scene
An illustration of the scene of the fatal accident, where a piece of metal pierced the cab of a Norfolk Southern locomotive.National Transportation Safety Board

WASHINGTON – A section of the pod car on a parked train protrudes from an incoming Norfolk Southern train, according to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board on Dec. 13, 2022. Steel angle iron kills a trainee conductor and seriously injures another conductor, Bessemer, Alabama accident.

The preliminary report, released on Tuesday, January 17, indicates that the ongoing investigation will focus on NS wagon inspection practices and NS and US Pipe’s operating procedures for unloading and returning wagons to NS. The preliminary report did not draw conclusions about the likely cause of the accident and the information it contains is subject to change.

Walter James Griffin III, 43, of Hueyton, Alabama, died in the accident [see “Norfolk Southern trainee killed …,” Trains News Wire, Dec. 13, 2022]. The Federal Railroad Administration previously issued a safety bulletin urging railroads to conduct pre-departure inspections to ensure that no objects protrude from wagons [see “FRA issues safety bulletin …,” News Wire, Jan. 6, 2022].

Initial reports say the angle iron — in this case, a piece of metal more than 16 feet long and 5 inches on a side — was welded to the upper right edge of the convertible SSEX 100843, which consisted of a parked train 340- 12. As the A55-12 train approached at approximately 55 mph, metal pieces had loosened and contaminated the adjacent main track. The angle iron pierced the window of the left front door of locomotive A55, hitting two wires.

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