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Human error blamed for runaway train

JACKSONVILLE, Florida (CNN) -- The operator of a 47-car train that barreled through northwestern Ohio for two hours with no one at the helm said Wednesday human error was to blame for the incident.

In a statement, CSX Transportation said an investigation determined all of the train's mechanical equipment was working as intended.

The freight train, with two tank cars containing thousands of gallons of the hazardous material molten phenol, traveled out of control for 66 miles Tuesday before a CSX employee jumped on to the moving train and brought it to a stop near Kenton, Ohio.

CSX executive Alan Crown praised the efforts of that employee, 31-year veteran Jon Hosfeld, and two others for their "courageous efforts" in halting the train.

The statement said the company, headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, had conducted an extensive investigation that included interviews with all employees involved, analysis of the train's event recorder and a recreation of the events at the rail yard in Toledo, where the train began rolling out of control without an engineer.

The workers who stopped the train, including the man jumped on board while it was still moving, are interviewed on CNN (May 16)

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The engineer, whose name was not released, told investigators he had applied only two of the three types of brakes before he stepped off the train in the rail yard. He said he had intended to engage the third, but inadvertently grabbed the throttle lever instead of the braking lever.

By the time the engineer realized his mistake, the statement said, he was already off the train.

"The effect would be similar to pressing down on the brake and accelerator simultaneously in an automobile, but under much more complex circumstances," Crown said.

The runaway train traveled at speeds around 35 mph for more than two hours and at one point reached 47 mph.

The train had slowed to about 10 mph when Hosfeld pulled his daring maneuver.

Crown described the engineer, a 35-year CSX veteran, as a "good employee" with a clean record. "He acknowledged that he made a serious error in judgment, and he will be held accountable," Crown said.

The company planned to inform all operating employees about what led to the incident.

• CSX Transportation
• Ohio State Highway Patrol

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