Navajo-Hopi Nations,Flagstaff & Winslow News
Sat, May 08

Aftermath of a train crash

There was a train crash, west of Flagstaff, Arizona on Tuesday night, October 31. We can confirm that from a bulletin issued by the office of the Coconino County Sheriff. Two trains were involved and one man killed, one seriously injured and two more less seriously who were treated and released from the Flagstaff Medical Center. The sheriff told us that in his press release the next morning.

We knew highway I-40 was shut down for over sixteen hours, eastbound, because the drivers for our newspaper were stuck in the traffic jam. Everyone in Winslow got their Wednesday paper on Thursday.

Flagstaff's Arizona Daily Sun sent reporters to the scene and we read their reports and heard some comments on television stations. But those reports remain unconfirmed for us because we cannot get one word from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad. When we called we were referred to the district information office, which is not in Arizona. When we reached that office, we got an answering machine several times, and no replies to our calls.

Finally, Thursday, November 9 we got a human being who said that the railroad could not tell us anything. No, they could not answer any questions. We should call the NTSB. Now fortunately we know that those initials stand for the National Transportation Safety Board. We asked for their telephone number. We were told to look it up in the telephone book. Have you looked for the NTSB lately in the Winslow phone directory?

We hear that the funeral for the one man who was killed at the scene has taken place in Nebraska and that the BNSF chartered a plane to carry people to the service. The best news we hear is that the man from Winslow who was seriously injured is now doing better. One third-hand comment is that this is considered miraculous. Given the injuries from crash and fire that he sustained (according to the Coconino County Sheriff) he still has a long and hard way to go.

This story is not really a story. We do not know enough facts to write a story so this is really an editorial. We do not think there is any excuse for a huge, seasoned business enterprise to refuse to give out any information whatsoever after an accident which seriously effected both individuals from Winslow and the whole city of Winslow. No matter what information may be held for the investigation the fact of the investigation should be public knowledge. Which agencies are investigating should also be public knowledge (NTSB? FBI? ADOT? DPS?, etc.). The train numbers (which trains were involved in the accident?) should be public knowledge. The time of the accident should be public knowledge. The time when the tracks reopened should be public knowledge.

The efforts made to reopen the tracks should be publically acknowledged. The names of the officials who are leading the investigation for the railroad and for the NTSB should be public knowledge. Some idea of when closure might be expected should be indicated.

This list is at least a beginning. There are probably more items which logically would be on it.

The train crash happened in public. The results of it need to be made clear for the people who have family and friends involved. In Winslow that means the city. We cannot find an excuse for giving out absolutely no information to this city. And we have already heard from people who work for the railroad and who have family and friends who work for the railroad asking similar questions and coming to similar conclusions.

So what does the railroad have to say?

L. S. Scala

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