Arkansas Officials Say Train Derailment Unreported

October 21, 2013

The derailment of a Kiamichi Railroad train in southwestern Arkansas near a neighborhood and two schools was not reported by the Oklahoma-based company, according to city officials in Ashdown and law enforcement in Little River County.

Officials learned of the derailment Friday when the city park superintendent called Mayor Carroll McLarty about 7:30 a.m. to tell him that about 10 tractor-trailers parked in a city park after apparently hauling equipment to repair the tracks and derailed cars.

“We learned about it the hard way when the park superintendent called saying some of the streets had been torn up and some of the ground had been ripped up by the steel tracks on the equipment,” McLarty told the Texarkana Gazette.

Officials with Hugo, Okla.-based Kiamichi Railroad did not return phone calls from The Associated Press on Saturday.

“Kiamichi didn’t have the courtesy to call us. It was just a rock’s throw to some houses,” McLarty said.

He said it appeared four cars derailed and were loaded with grain.

The derailment occurred near a residential area on the west side of Ashdown, about one block from Ashdown Senior Citizens Center and about two blocks from Margaret Daniel Primary School and C.D. Franks Elementary School.

Little River County Sheriff’s Department Dispatcher Martha Sue Abney said no one reported the derailment to the sheriff’s department, and McLarty said Ashdown police were not notified.

Little River County Emergency Services Coordinator Don Hale Jr. said he learned of the derailment Friday in a telephone call.

“Someone from the public called me asking what happened. I didn’t know about the derailment,” Hale said.

The tractor-trailers were from a crane and excavation company, Hale said.

The city will continue trying to contact Kiamiachi officials and will ask the railroad to repair damages made to city property, McLarty said.

‘The trucks ran over a sewer manhole and broke it. You can imagine the weight of the equipment,” he said. “We were a little anxious they had a derailment and brought in heavy equipment and we knew nothing about it. We don’t think anyone was hurt in the derailment.”

An estimate of the damages was not immediately available.

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