It’s 2 p.m. on a Friday afternoon in June 2009. In Dubuque, Iowa, Canadian National railmen Kenneth Slaughter and Thomas Fitman hop on a freight train bound for Chicago. Their cargo is 2 million gallons of ethanol contained in more than a mile of train cars. In six hours and 36 minutes, this train, Canadian National U70691-18, will derail in Cherry Valley and become engulfed in a deadly firestorm. Read more.
A desperate 17 minutes: efforts to warn train failed. A 17-minute effort, ultimately unsuccessful, to warn Canadian National Railroad dispatchers about damaged rail lines quickly became the focus of the National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation of the June 19, 2009, derailment and fire, newly released documents show.