More than 20 cars derailed after train crashes into semitruck on tracks

The train derailed after hitting a semitruck that was stuck on the tracks.



The train derailed after hitting a semitruck that was stuck on the tracks.

Three people were rescued Wednesday morning in Duluth after a train crashed into a big rig that got stuck on the tracks and derailed, officials said.

The wreck happened about 9:45 a.m. in the 3600 block of Buford Highway near downtown Duluth, Gwinnett County fire department spokesman Lt. Donald Strother said.

Chelsea Odom said she was on her morning jog when she saw the truck get caught on the track with an oversized load.

“I heard the man screaming ‘we’ve got to go, we’ve got to move,’ and I heard the tires screeching,” Odom said. “And then all of a sudden I see a big ‘boom’ and a lot of rumbling going on. It’s like a movie.”

The semitruck became stuck on the train tracks while trying to cross, according to Duluth police spokesman Ted Sadowski. Authorities said between 20 and 23 train cars were knocked off the track during the impact.

Three people were taken to a hospital following the wreck.


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Odom, who said she’s training to be a firefighter, began helping an officer free people from the wreckage.

“I’ve been in a lot of situations where I’ve helped people get out of car accidents,” she said.

The victims had “cuts all over their head and their arms,” Odom said.

She did not walk away unscathed, she said. While helping pull people out of the wreckage, she fell “and busted up my legs pretty good.”

“The train was actually tilting, so we had to be very careful,” Odom said. “And if we weren’t, the train was unfortunately going to fall over, but we did get everyone out safely.”

Three people were taken to a hospital with minor injuries, Strother said, including a conductor, an engineer and the truck driver. Odom, who was not taken to the hospital, said it is fortunate that everyone got out safely.

“It’s definitely God. It’s a wakeup call for everybody to stay safe out here,” she said.

Ten cars carrying HAZMAT materials were attached to the train, and two were impacted by the wreck, Strother said.

“(HAZMAT crews) took a look to make sure that no spills had taken place,” he said. “The only thing they found that had spilled were a couple of Gatorade bottles. No HAZMAT materials were leaked.”

Buford Highway reopened around noon. Norfolk Southern, who owns the train involved, took over the cleanup process, Strother said.

The crash happened in the 3600 block of Buford Highway in Duluth.

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