ELLICOTT CITY, Md. (AP) -- A CSX train hauling coal derailed and fell from a bridge in downtown Ellicott City outside Baltimore, killing two people and crushing vehicles in a parking lot, authorities said.
Twenty-one of the train’s 80 cars flipped over around midnight Monday, Howard County officials said. Some of the train cars crushed parked vehicles in a nearby county-owned lot, County Executive Ken Ulman said. Cranes were brought in Tuesday morning to remove train cars from the vehicles so they can be searched for other potential victims.
“Many of those train cars fell onto automobiles, literally fell onto automobiles with the coal,” said Ulman. “So you have massive piles of coal and heavy train cars on top of automobiles.”
The two people who were killed were on the rail bridge and were not railroad employees. The victims’ identities were not immediately released.
Two train operators were not harmed, officials said.
On Tuesday morning, residents were surveying the damage and checking to see if their cars, or their friends’ cars, had been damaged in the accident. Several gray train cars were still on the bridge while others could be seen derailed farther down the rail line. A number of cars could be seen derailed in a wooded area of train track that runs along the Patapsco River.
Jill Farrell, a 35-year-old assistant professor who lives across the street from the tracks, said she heard what sounded liked brakes being slammed and then a huge crash. “It actually sounded like trains went off the tracks, and then silence.”
Farrell said the tracks are easily accessible and in an area where there are several bars. The hilly, picturesque downtown area also includes gift and antique shops in converted old buildings.
CSX spokesman Bob Sullivan told WJLA-TV in Washington that the train was traveling from Grafton, W.Va., to Baltimore.
It’s unclear what caused the crash. A CSX team was investigating.
Streets in the area were closed early Tuesday.
Associated Press writers Matthew Barakat and Jessica Gresko in Washington contributed to this report.