SANFORD, Fla. - Channel 9 has received new details about last year's train derailment in Sanford. The train's conductor was killed in the accident.
It was around 6:30 in the morning on Oct. 24. Christopher Putfark, 36, of Deltona, was conducting a train pushing 10 cars.
The train was moving backward when it struck a derailer, a portable device designed to force trains off the rails. Ironically, it's a safety feature that was in place that morning to protect construction workers.
"The derailers did what they were supposed to do," said Sgt. Kim Montes with the Florida Highway Patrol.
The derailer caused four cars, loaded with gravel, to overturn along the tracks. Putfark was trapped under the last car and suffered traumatic injuries.
Montes said investigators don't know if Putfark knew derailers were being used and said it's possible he didn't see them until it was too late.
"They're metal, they do have a flag attached to them, but at night it's difficult for them to be seen," said Montes.
The construction worker who placed the derailers on the tracks moments before the accident told FHP investigators he "did not see or hear any train movement on the tracks" and hadn't been told to expect a train that morning. He said trains that need to use the tracks stop and wait for the derailers to be removed
"What the trooper found was there was a lack of communication and documentation amongst all the companies involved. So it puts the blame on everybody," said Montes.
FHP did not file any charges in the case but the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is still investigating and could impose fines or take other actions.\
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