PRICHARD, Ala. (WALA) – A fatal train accident that occurred Tuesday now is the subject of a joint investigation by a pair of federal agencies.
Representatives from the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Railroad Administration told FOX10 News they are jointly investigating the matter. In addition, Prichard police late Wednesday provided more details of the crash that occurred on the tracks off of Interstate 165, killing one worker and injuring two others.
According to police, the workers from Continental Rails Inc. and were repairing the track by replacing railroad ties on Tuesday afternoon. A Canadian National locomotive operated by employees of Alabama Export Railroad was headed toward the Alabama State Docks when it collided with the Continental Rails crew. Police said Dexter Earl Scott, a worker from Laurel, Miss., died in the accident. The police report lists the engineer, James Elder, as a "suspect." Authorities added, though, that there is no criminal investigation at this time.
Terry Williams, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, said investigators would interview the crew, examine the wreckage, review maintenance records and look into the history of the rail company. He added that investigators also would inspect equipment, including the track, and consider the weather conditions.
“We do a very thorough investigation. … Right now, we’re in the very, very early stages,” he said.
The accident occurred on a 12.1-mile stretch of track that serves the Alabama Port Authority and connects to seven other rail lines. The Alabama Export Railroad operates the line, which is owned by the Illinois Central Railroad. The Alabama Export Railroad is a subsidiary of the Mississippi Export Railroad, based on Moss Point.
That company declined a request for an interview.
“We offer our sincere condolences and sympathies to the families and colleagues of those involved,” the company said in a statement. “As the incident is under investigation, the Railroad is unable to comment further.”
Federal Railroad Administration records indicate the Mississippi Export Railroad has had collisions resulting in seven injuries over the past decade. The company also paid fines of $7,000 and $5,000 in 2012 and 2014, respectively, to settle complaints by regulators alleging safety violations.
The Alabama Export Railroad line has had two collisions during that time, one of which resulted in an injury, according to federal records.
Story updated at 6:55 p.m. with additional details of the accident from the Prichard Police Department. Updated at 7:41 p.m. to include the name of the victim.