RUNAWAY TRAIN stopped after rolling with hazardous material


Tuesday, May 15th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6



KENTON, Ohio (AP) _ A runaway freight train carrying hazardous materials rolled for miles through northwest Ohio on Tuesday with no one aboard before a CSX official boarded and stopped it, authorities said.

The CSX train of about 37 cars carried some kind of combustible material, the Hancock County Sheriff's Department said. Authorities could not identify the material.

The sheriff's department earlier had said authorities had not been able to make contact with the engineer and initially believed the crew member had suffered a heart attack.

However, Gerlene Draper, a Kenton police dispatcher, said no one was aboard the train.

``No one had a heart attack. There was no one on the train at all,'' she said. ``The brakes just failed.''

She said the train was coming from Toledo. Draper did not know where the train had stopped when the brakes failed. Jacksonville, Fla.-based CSX did not immediately return phone calls seeking further detail.

The train had traveled through at least two northwest Ohio counties before a CSX got on and stopped it just southeast of Kenton, about 55 miles northwest of Columbus.

Earlier, Sgt. Shawn Davis, a spokesman for the State Highway Patrol, said authorities would try to stop the train by throwing an emergency switch on the outside of the locomotive that would cut the power.

A dispatcher had said the train, which at one point was clocked at 46 mph, was slowing down because it was moving uphill.

The train's route took it through farm fields and several villages in northwest Ohio, at times running parallel to Interstate 75.

It also ran through downtown Bowling Green, a city of about 29,600, and near Bowling Green State University. Bowling Green is some 50 miles north of Kenton.

``It would have been a disaster if it would've derailed in town,'' said Sgt. Major Mike Blair of the Wood County sheriff's office.

Authorities had tried to derail the train once near Findlay, said Robert Ruse, the city's safety director.

The Hancock County sheriff's department did not immediately know where the train started.