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Rail workers describe how they stopped runaway train

Forson, Hosfeld, Knowlton
Rail workers Terry Forson, left, Jon Hosfeld, center, and Jesse Knowlton describe how they stopped the runaway train  

TOLEDO, Ohio (CNN) -- Rail workers told CNN on Wednesday how they stopped a runaway freight train after it had traveled nearly 70 miles with no one at the controls.

Investigators are scheduled to go to Toledo, Ohio, on Wednesday to find out how the train carrying hazardous materials was able to leave its station Tuesday without an engineer.

CSX Transportation workers were able to slow the runaway by latching a second engine to the end of the train. The second engine applied its brakes, reducing the runaway's speed.

"We caught up with the train and tried to judge it as best as we could to tie on and ... first hit, we tied on," said locomotive engineer Jesse Knowlton, who was piloting the second engine. "All I know is what I had to do. I was instructed -- or asked -- to catch that train, and that's what I did."

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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After the train had slowed to about 10 mph, it was trainmaster Jon Hosfeld's job to jump aboard it at a railroad crossing in Kenton, Ohio.

"I had one try," Hosfeld said. "It was my only attempt to do it. We had gone through -- I think -- about three or four other crossings and the speed was too great that I knew that no way humanly possible could I mount the equipment, so I had to wait until it was down to a speed to where I had the comfort zone ... that I could get on and isolate the power."

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.

Trainmaster Jon Hosfeld jumps aboard the runaway train Tuesday before bringing it to a stop  

"The public was never really in jeopardy, other than we had a train that was sort of out of control for about two hours," Hosfeld said.

Terry Forson, who helped attach the second engine to the runaway, had been a conductor for just about a year when faced with catching the runaway train.

"They never said nothing about this during training," Forson said. "It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime thing. It was just a weird feeling to see that thing go by with nobody on it and then have to come out and chase it down. It was an intense moment."

• CSX Transportation
• Ohio State Highway Patrol

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