Runaway train stopped after uncontrolled 2 hours
KENTON, Ohio (CNN) -- A runaway freight train that barreled through 66 miles of northwestern Ohio with no one aboard was halted safely Tuesday by a railroad worker who jumped onto the moving train and pulled its brake.
The 47-car CSX train was slowed down by another engine in a coupling maneuver.
Two of the train's tank cars contained thousands of gallons of the hazardous material molten phenol acid, a toxic ingredient of paints and dyes harmful when it is inhaled, ingested or comes into contact with the skin.
Kathleen Burns, a spokeswoman for CSX Transportation, said the train left its Toledo rail yard with no engineer at its controls. The engineer was "nearby" in the yard at the time, but not on the train, she said.
"It left the yard unmanned," she said. "Obviously, something went awry. That's what we're trying to get to the bottom of."
She said the railroad had dispatched mechanics and safety experts to the scene to investigate what happened.
Burns said the company's investigators planned to head to Toledo on Wednesday for a thorough inquiry. The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Railroad Administration are investigating.
Initial reports said the engineer apparently had a heart attack while in the locomotive and that he was aboard.
"There is no one on the train," said Kenton Police Detective Dennis Alexander after CSX worker Jon Hosfeld had climbed aboard and stopped the train.
Alexander said CSX slowed the runaway by latching a second engine to the end of the train. The second engine applied its brakes, slowing the first enough for Hosfeld to make the climb just Southeast of Kenton, about 55 miles northwest of Columbus. " That's how the train slowed down," Alexander said.
In a daring maneuver, Hosfeld, a 31-year CSX veteran who was waiting at a railroad crossing, jumped aboard the train, entered the locomotive and pulled its brake. The train was traveling about 10 mph when Hosfeld hopped aboard.
"We're just all happy that it ended without any injuries. That's always the number one issue for us: Safety first," said Corry Schiermeyer with the Federal Railroad Administration.
"Everything went smooth," said a spokeswoman for the Kenton Police Department said.
The CSX train averaged about 30-35 mph with no one at its helm for more than two hours. At one point, it was traveling at 47 mph.
The state highway patrol assisted in evacuating the area around any railroad crossings to make sure no one got in the way.
The train passed through three counties with officials unable to reach anyone aboard.
"They tried to stop it in Wood County, but it didn't work," said Kathy Palmerton with the Hancock County Sheriff's Department.
Palmerton said the train was pulling "flammable, combustible materials" and that it was headed south.
The CSX official said 25 cars were empty and 22 cars were loaded with material, including the two containing the hazardous materials.
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