TEXAS - 11 Hospitalized as Tarantula Derails (Timing Miscalculation Cited)

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Updated: Wednesday, Mar. 15, 2000 at 16:41 CST

11 hospitalized as Tarantula derails near Stockyards

By Rebeca Rodriguez and Melody McDonald Star-Telegram Staff Writer

FORT WORTH -- The engine of the popular Tarantula excursion train derailed on a track about a half-mile south of the Fort Worth Stockyards Wednesday afternoon after colliding with a tanker train going in the opposite direction. Passenger cars were jolted, and one was tipped slightly off the tracks, fire officials said.

Eleven people were taken to area hospitals, but their injuries did not appear life-threatening, said Mike Murphy, managing director for Medstar. The rest of the passengers sustained small bumps, bruises and back pain, said Lt. Kent Worley, a fire department spokesman.

Four children were taken to Cook Children's Medical Center. Three adults were taken to Harris Methodist Fort Worth, two were taken to John Peter Smith Hospital and two to All Saints Hospital, Murphy said.

Officials with the Fort Worth & Western Railroad Company declined to comment.

The collision occurred about 1:30 p.m., and was apparently due to a timing miscalculation, Worley said. Tanker train engineers thought the Tarantula train was further down the track than it actually was, and there was not enough time for the tanker to change tracks, he said.

The impact jarred passengers, even though the trains were only going five and seven miles per hour.

"That train came to a very sudden stop," Worley said. "And they have those wooden benches on there. It would sort of be like you were sitting in church, and all of a sudden you got jammed into the pew in front of you."

There were 148 passengers on the train with a crew of seven, Worley said.

The train was northbound near Northside Drive in the Stockyards when the engine derailed, Worley said.

After the incident, passengers were taken by bus to the Stockyards, where they originally boarded the train. Some attempted to get a refund or an explanation for the botched $22 journey at the Tarantula Train office, and were disappointed at the company's response.

"There was no apology. They took our names and told us someone would call us with compensation," said Sean Hooda, from Las Colinas, who was traveling with his parents, his wife and their two children. "I wish someone would have been there to apologize. We came off (the bus) and there was no one."


-- (Dee360Degree@aol.com), March 16, 2000

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