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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sand on tracks causes derailment


Rob Henderson removes a hydraulic surger, a tool used to repair railroad tracks, from the scene of a derailed log car in Mica on Thursday morning. Road sand had filled in the track at a crossing and derailed the car. 
 (Jed Conklin / The Spokesman-Review)
Rob Henderson removes a hydraulic surger, a tool used to repair railroad tracks, from the scene of a derailed log car in Mica on Thursday morning. Road sand had filled in the track at a crossing and derailed the car. (Jed Conklin / The Spokesman-Review)

A sand-choked railroad crossing left a railroad car on its side in Mica, its load of logs tossed about like matchsticks next to Highway 27 and Belmont Road.

Crews from Union Pacific spent Thursday cleaning up the mess and getting the car back on the tracks. The accident happened around 3 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, but the first crews didn’t arrive until early Thursday morning.

“This is an industrial track,” said Union Pacific section foreman Dave Hoffman. “It hardly ever gets used. Since this is a branch line, it’s not as important. We just come out and fix it when we can.”

The car was being moved through a crossing that turned out to be covered in sand. The sand made the car rise up off the track and slide into the dirt. The train crew stopped when they realized the car was off the track, but couldn’t leave it there blocking road, Hoffman said.

“They couldn’t pull it back. They have to shove it forward. The load shifted and it tipped over. They did what they had to do to clear the crossing.”

The train car left a trail of gouged wooden ties in its wake and shoved the rails apart as it fell. Hoffman and his crew spent the morning realigning the rails to the proper spacing and clearing gravel that had been shoved onto the tracks. Another crew with equipment required to put the car back on the tracks was dispatched from Oregon to finish the job.

Hoffman said he did not know which railroad company owned the car or where it had been going. A Union Pacific representative in Omaha, Neb., said he didn’t have any information about the derailment.

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