Train Derailment 911 Tapes Released
Callers describe what they saw in Ellicott City moments after a train derailed on Main Street.
“I’m in Ellicott City. The train fell over.”
This frantic call to 911 was one of four released Friday evening by the Howard County Police Department.
“This is Ellicott City, Historic Ellicott City on Main Street,” the caller goes on to say. “The train fell off the tracks.”
Just before midnight Tuesday, Aug. 21, a CSX freight train derailed in Ellicott City, dumping thousands of tons of coal onto the street and killing two young women who were sitting on the tracks.
One caller, who was across the street at the Phoenix Emporium when the train derailed, asked the 911 operator if he should get closer to the train so he could give her more information.
Then, the sound of feet running for 26 seconds.
“The cargo cars on the bridge are completely on the side so all the gravel … it looks like it might be coal? Yea, it's coal. It came completely out.”
Nineteen-year-olds Elizabeth Nass and Rose Mayr were sitting on a walkway along the tracks when it derailed, according to the preliminary investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board. They were crushed by the falling coal.
“The coal came completely out,” the caller who ran to the scene said. It was “completely covering the road.” The sound of a car driving through the coal overwhelms the call briefly.
“Some guy just ran over the coal pile like it was nothing.”
Another caller said he was looking out of his window and saw the train. “It’s a huge train,” he said. “I think you’d better send the police and the fire department.”
A second caller from the Phoenix Emporium said that he heard the derailment as it happened. “It pretty much happened right in front of me.”
He tells the operator: “Send a car down here. They can’t miss it.”