Delombre, LA - Engineer dies of injuries from truck, train accident : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

By JAMES MINTON Baker-Zachary bureau

DELOMBRE -- A train crossing U.S. 61 collided with a loaded log truck Monday morning, slamming the tractor-trailer into a car, killing one man and injuring eight other people.

The grinding 10:45 a.m. collision in East Feliciana Parish north of the Port Hudson State Historic Site also caused the train's forward locomotive to derail and run into a trackside embankment.

The train's engineer, Wayne Connor, 56, of Port Allen died shortly before 7 p.m., a spokesman for Baton Rouge General Medical Center said.

Connor was thrown from the locomotive's cab, State Police Troop A spokesman Doug Cain said.

The truck driver, Ronald Dupont, 42, of Simmesport, was pinned in the demolished cab of his truck for about two hours.

The Canadian National-Illinois Central Railroad train's brakeman, Ronald Graves, 52, of Zachary, was treated and released from Lane Memorial Hospital, while the conductor, Charlie Price, 59, of Pride, was hospitalized with moderate injuries at Baton Rouge General Medical Center, the trooper said.

Cain said five people were in the car, a four-door Oldsmobile Achieva driven by Darlene Buckner of Ferriday.

They suffered moderate and minor injuries and were treated at West Feliciana Hospital in St. Francisville.

Police blocked the four-lane highway into the evening as crews worked to repair damage to the tracks and put the locomotive back on the rails.

Cain said troopers received conflicting statements from witnesses about whether the crossing's warning signals were working as the two southbound vehicles approached the tracks.

The accident remains under investigation, he said.

Firefighters from East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana and West Feliciana parishes responded to calls for assistance to treat the injured and free the truck driver.

Rescue workers called on employees of nearby Colonial Pipeline for a "cherry picker," a tractor-mounted crane, to lift a large piece of the warning light stanchion from the truck and raise the load of pulpwood logs resting above the cab.

"We had to secure an unstable load. We didn't need a pile of logs tumbling down and hurting more people," Zachary Fire Chief Doug Gleason said.

Dupont was conscious throughout the ordeal, but Gleason said one of his legs appeared to be broken and the other was pinned beneath the brake and clutch pedals.

Firefighters used hydraulic-powered cutting tools to open a hole in the truck's cab, through which they removed Dupont.

"The hardest part was the cab. They build those things to take a licking, and this one did," Gleason said.

Emma C. Brown of Bardstown, Ky., said she was pumping gas at a nearby service station when she heard the engineer blowing the train's whistle.

She said she remarked to a companion, "That train is awfully loud."

Brown said she then realized the truck and car were on a collision course with the locomotive.

She said the railroad warning lights were not flashing as the vehicles approached the crossing.

Cain said Buckner slammed on her car's brakes and turned right into the ditch to avoid colliding with the train.

The train then hit the tractor-trailer, shoving it into and over the Oldsmobile.

Brown, en route to Lake Providence from Baton Rouge, said she ran to the scene, discovering that a crewman in the train was unable to climb out of the wreckage.

Smoke began pouring from under the truck, but truck drivers who came upon the scene used their fire extinguishers to prevent flames from enveloping the wreckage, Brown said.

Donna Blevins of the Pecan Grove Volunteer Fire Department and Concordia Parish Sheriff's Deputy David Parker were the first people trained in emergency medical care on the scene.

They said a crewman on the locomotive had been thrown from the right side of the train through a window on the left side, while another crewman was hanging out of the same window.

West Feliciana Parish Fire Chief Tommy Boyett noted that a 34,000-gallon propane tank car, although not damaged in the collision, was only the second car behind the two locomotives.

"I got a little weak in the knees when I saw that," Boyett said.

-- Doris (, June 27, 2000

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