Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Crazy Train

On May 15, 2001, a Toledo, Ohio, CSX train conductor with more than 35 years of experience saw that the train he was piloting was travelling too fast for the switch ahead. In an effort to keep the train from damaging the track, he quickly applied all of the brakes, disembarked, and ran ahead to throw the switch manually. Unfortunately, instead of the dynamic hand brake, he accidentally engaged the throttle to notch 8 - full speed - and the now-unmanned locomotive 8888, known as 'Crazy Eights', accelerated down the track. Meanwhile, in Kenton, 67 miles south, CSX Trainmaster and Vietnam veteran Jon Hosfeld dropped his lunch and, together with colleague Mike Smith, spent the next two hours in a silver Dodge Dakota, at speeds up to 100 mph, pursuing the runaway train. Efforts to derail it and to shoot the fuel shutoff valve with a shotgun failed, so Engineer Jess Knowlton and the crew of a separate train chased the Crazy Eights down from behind, and coupled to it - a procedure normally completed at about 4 miles per hour - while speeding through swampland in reverse at over 50 mph. The chase train managed to slow down the Crazy Eights to 11 mph, at which time Hosfeld ran alongside it and jumped aboard. The train, including two cars of hazardous chemicals, finally came to an stop after a 66-mile journey through central Ohio.

Links and Sources:
The Culprit, on www.kohlin.com, retrieved March 6, 2012.
"Runaway Train Stopped after 2 Uncontrolled Hours", on CNN.com, May 15, 2001.
"Pennsylvania Man Lived the Drama that Inspired Unstoppable", by Amy Worden, Philadelphia Inquirer, November 12, 2010.
Photo by Jeff Kiger on www.rrpicturesarchive.net

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