The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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October 11, 2013

Truck, train collide in W.Va.; 1 dead, dozens hurt

A logging truck collided with a train taking passengers on a scenic tour amid fall foliage in eastern West Virginia, killing one person and injuring more than 60 others Friday, emergency services officials said.

The cause of the accident between the truck and the Durbin & Greenbrier Railroad train on a trip at the height of the autumn leaf-watching season wasn’t immediately known.

Two passenger cars overturned in the accident at 1:30 p.m. Friday along U.S. Route 250 about 160 miles east of Charleston near Cheat Mountain, said emergency services director Shawn Dunbrack of Pocahontas County.

Randolph County emergency services director Jim Wise said at least three people were critically injured. He said 21 people were taken to a hospital in Elkins by ambulances and 45 others were transported there by bus with lesser injuries. There were no immediate details on the death and the nature of the injuries.

Hospital spokeswoman Tracy Fath said at least eight ambulances arrived at the hospital. She didn’t immediately know the condition of the arrivals. Medical personnel also were tending to those who arrived by bus.

“Some wished to have medical care. Some declined to have medical care,” Fath said. “Our staff is on the bus trying to (assess) which ones will want to be seen.”

Dunbrack said the train involved was operated by the Durbin & Greenbrier Railroad. The railroad operates several trains in the area, including the Cheat Mountain Salamander that runs Tuesdays through Saturdays in October on a 6.5-hour trip. The railroad said there were three passenger cars Friday on the 88-mile roundtrip that left Elkins on a route taking passengers to elevations of more than 4,000 feet.

The train travels about 25 mph alongside a boulder-strewn river, crossing a bridge barely wider than the train, rumbling through an 1,800-foot tunnel and then passing an abandoned rail bridge.

The overturned passenger cars lay beside the tracks, roped off with yellow crime scene tape as police and others looked on.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with all those involved and the emergency responders working the tragic accident in Randolph County this afternoon,” Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said in a statement.     

Tomblin spokeswoman Amy Shuler Goodwin said state Department of Environmental Protection crews were sent to the site to help clean up a large fuel spill. Neither Goodwin nor Wise knew whether the spill came from the truck or the train.

Route 250 over Cheat Mountain was closed indefinitely.

The driver of the logging truck wasn’t immediately identified.

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