The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released a preliminary report on the Oct. 4 collision of two Union Pacific (UP) trains in Granite Canyon, Wyo., that killed SMART Transportation Division Local 446 members Jason Vincent Martinez, 40, and Benjamin “Benji” George Brozovich, 39.
The report states that data retrieved from the event recorder of the train indicated that an emergency brake application failed to slow the train as it descended a grade west of Cheyenne before striking the rear of a stationary train.
“Normally, the locomotive would send a message to the end-of-train device to also apply the brakes with an emergency brake application,” NTSB said in the preliminary report. “According to the event recorder, the end-of-train device did not make an emergency application of the brakes. Investigators are researching the reason for the communication failure. After the engineer applied the emergency application, the train continued to accelerate until reaching 56 mph as the last recorded speed.”
Positive train control (PTC) was active at the time of the accident, NTSB said.
NTSB said further investigation will focus on components of the train’s air brake system, head-of-train and end-of-train radio-linked devices, train braking simulations and current railroad operating rules. Investigators will also determine if the railroad’s air brake and train handling instructions address monitoring air flow readings and recognizing the communication status with the end-of-train device, the report stated.
Three locomotives and 57 cars of the striking train derailed. Nine cars of the stationary train derailed.
The investigation into the collision is continuing, and a final report will be released by NTSB at a later date.
Follow this link to read the preliminary report.

In an early morning accident Tuesday, July 9, Local 794 member Kevin Beggs was trapped under a BNSF boxcar, causing him to lose his legs. Currently, Beggs is listed in critical condition at Via Christi on St. Francis Hospital in Wichita, Kan., where he was flown via helicopter. It has been reported that Beggs has internal injuries and doctors have been struggling to regulate his blood pressure.

Officials don’t yet know what happened at the scene, but it is believed that Beggs fell from the boxcar and was run over and trapped beneath it.

Wellington Fire Chief Tim Hay, who was on the scene, sai that Beggs was working at the BNSF switching station when he fell from the boxcar. Hay said that Beggs allegedly fell to the tracks and was run over and pinned by two of the wheels of the 1,000-plus pound rail car.

Hay contends that BNSF employee Blaine Zeka was very helpful in the rescue when he produced a jack for the rail cars that could simultaneously lift the axel and the wheels at the same time.

“He had the expertise to operate the jack,” Hay said. “He was instrumental in assisting with the 45-minute extrication.”

Beggs has a wife and a son, Eliot, currently serving in Afghanistan. He has been an active member of his Wellington community, having served as the Chamber of Commerce president, ran a bakery and owned the Regent Theater.