New Report Blames Track Break For Deadly Ellicott City Derailment

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It’s been nearly two years since a CSX train derailed in Ellicott City, crushing two teenagers sitting on a railroad bridge. Now the NTSB has released an extensive report on what may have caused the deadly incident.

Meghan McCorkell has more information from the report.

The report reveals the derailment likely began with a small break in the track and the two girls had nothing to do with the accident.

It was a tragedy that broke the hearts of people in downtown Ellicott City.

“A week doesn’t go by that I don’t think about it,” said one resident at the time.

Twenty-one train cars toppled off the CSX tracks, crushing 19-year-olds Rose Mayr and Elizabeth Nass, who were sitting on the railway bridge.

Now, for the first time, the NTSB has released images from the train’s video event recorder. In the dark shots, you can see one of the train cars listing to the right with emergency vehicles below. Another image is from the front of the train as it approaches the bridge; Mayr and Nass were nowhere in sight.

In an interview, the train’s engineer says he never saw the two girls. He said, “No, I didn’t…we didn’t see anybody the whole way down. I mean, it was late at night. we didn’t see anybody along the tracks.”

Investigators now suspect the derailment was caused by a break in the tracks hundreds of feet before the railway bridge and that the girls were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The report shows images of the girls’ cell phones, which they were texting on minutes before the derailment.

CSX has now put up signs and fences to limit access to the bridge.

“If you can try and reduce the amount of access and therefore people being in harm’s way, you know that’s going to be very important,” said Steve Lafferty, Howard County Business Liaison, in August 2013.

A final report on the derailment is expected in the next two months. That report will include recommendations to prevent a tragedy like this in the future.

Investigators say the railway was inspected just one day before the derailment. No defects were found.

For more information, click here.

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