Crews begin clean-up of cars, coal from derailment


BLOOMINGTON - Nearly three dozen rail cars left the tracks, spilling tons of coal across the Monroe County landscape Sunday.

Thirty-five cars are sandwiched together at the scene along Garrison Chapel Road near the Monroe County Airport. Heavy equipment was brought to the scene to try to straighten them out.

"They are packed in there pretty tight," said neighbor Bill Tusing.

Around 3 p.m. Sunday, the train, which was loaded with coal headed for an Indianapolis Power & Light station, derailed, spilling its contents on the track and bringing the neighbors out of their houses.

"Well, it was fairly loud. It was louder than normal and we just opened the front door of the house and it got real loud and then dead silence," said Tusing.

On average, only one or two trains a day use the stretch of track where the accident occurred. Mick Miller was outside of his house when the coal-loaded train came to a roaring stop.

"I heard something different and I was like, 'Uh, that doesn't sound right'," he said. "It didn't make a big boom or anything like that, just scraping metal."

That scraping metal sound was the cars digging into the ground, some impaled by the track and others twisted and mangled.

Chris Rund of the Indiana Rail Road Company, who owns and operates the train and the track says the good news is no one was injured. Now, they have to find out how and why it happened.

"This issue that has come up is the heat and the expansion of the tracks. That could have been an issue with what caused this incident," said Sgt. Troy Thomas, Monroe County Sheriff's Department.

"Right now, we have no indication that heat was a factor. The ambient temperature is well below the threshold we would impose running restrictions or special track inspections because of heat, so right now, we have no indication that heat was a factor," Rund said.

Regardless of what caused the mess, it is going to take several days to get the coal cleaned up, the wrecked cars removed and the track straightened out. Coal was reportedly spread as far as three-quarters of a mile at the scene.

Rund says cost of the derailment is probably at least $2.5 million.

"But that is still to be determined," he said.

Garrison Chapel Road is blocked due to the accident.