Debris From Derailment Barely Misses Child

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GRANTVILLE, Kan. (WIBW) -- Around 9:45 p.m. Monday night, November 12th, residents along Front Street heard a strange noise.

A neighbor describes the noise as a screech and loud roar.

Living next to train tracks, loud noises aren't uncommon. This one, however, was different.

The noise was 29 cars of a Union Pacific coal train veering off the tracks. They lay twisted and mangled along Front Street, coal spilled everywhere.

A three foot peice of rail went flying - smashing into a bedroom, where a four-year-old boy was sleeping on the top bunk. It narrowly missed his dog, Charlie, who was asleep on the bunk below. The family at the residence has a seven-year-old girl, but she was not in the bedroom at the time.

The family is declining interviews at this time, but the community is glad everyone is safe.

"We might have had to evacuate, so I'm thankful there was no loss of life," minister Buzz Lambrecht said.

The coal cars are still littering Front Street and authorities are trying to figure out what caused the derailment, but for right now the clean-up is ongoing.

The Grantville Fire Department was called to the scene, and left around 1:30 a.m.

"We did a house-by-house canvas to make sure no one was hurt and there were no injuries," Fire Chief Doug Brumbaugh said. "We had a very good response from Jefferson County EMS, the Sheriff's Department, the Kansas Highway Patrol, our local fire department ad our Emergency Preparedness director. We all worked very well together."

Authorities say 30 percent of the trains that pass by carry hazardous material, so they're fortunate this cargo was coal.

"It can be very serious," Brumbaugh said. "We could have had a big incident here. We're very lucky it was just coal."

Five years ago in 2007, a similar incident happened, just a 50 foot difference from today's derailment. The cause of that derailment was a broken rail.

With the two accidents being just five years apart, it's making residents wonder what keeps going wrong.

Lambrecht said last year, work was done on the same rail.

"You think a track that's been worked on is in good shape," he said. "You have to ask, 'what made this happen?' It's a question."

Union Pacific crews are determining what went wrong. Authorities there say this accident is not related to the previous accident in 2007.

Earlier today one of the two lines of track was up and running. The track should have full function by night time, about 24 hours after it happened.