Freight Rail, Passenger Rail, Safety, Standards & Regulation, Signalling & Communications

How was boy, 13, able to cause train wreck?

Union station rail incident. Photo: Oneida County

VIDEO: US officials have released stunning footage of a rail car ploughing into a station after a 13-year-old boy allegedly set the car in motion while playing in a rail yard.

Footage shows a single, uncontrolled rail car travelling towards Union Station, in Utica, New York, before it slams into the railway station’s building, narrowly avoiding bystanders waiting to board an Amtrak passenger service.

According to reports, nobody was killed in the incident, and just one minor injury was recorded.

The wagon was filled with plastic pellets, and weighed more than 100 tonnes at the time of the collision, according to Utica Police Lieutenant Steve Hauck, who spoke the following day with local radio station WIBX.

Hauck said the wagon travelled downhill for several miles, hitting a car (resulting in the minor injury) on its way to Union Station.

At Union Station, the wagon reached the end of a runoff track which backed onto the station building.

It rammed into an antique locomotive stationed at the end of the track, resulting in damage Oneida County said will be very costly to undo.


Police later ascertained a 13-year-old set the car in motion, while playing in a rail yard. According to an AP report, police allege the child accidentally kicked the rail car’s latch while playing on it, setting the wagon in motion.

Oneida County has accepted the judgement of Utica Police Department investigators, that the child had no criminal intent.

But county executive Anthony J. Picente, Jr. says someone else should have to pay to fix the damage.

“Of continued concern is how it was possible for a 13-year-old child to set this train car in motion through the City of Utica,” Picente said on July 31.

“I understand that the Federal Railroad Administration has concluded that proper procedure was followed. That is astounding.

“There was significant danger to our citizens and there is significant damage to our train station and someone is responsible and it isn’t the taxpayers of Oneida County. Oneida County Government has done nothing wrong. Oneida County taxpayers have done nothing wrong.”

Picente said the county was owed a better explanation than ‘proper procedure’ was followed.

“I call on the FRA and the NTSB to give this government and the people of this county a real explanation,” he campaigned.

“If ‘proper procedure’ can result in an accident caused by a 13-year-old playing on a rail car that has sat unattended for 14 days, someone should change the procedure – immediately.”

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