Niagara Gazette

Local News

August 29, 2012

Runaway train car crosses Whirlpool Bridge into Canada, isn't discovered for 11 hours

Niagara Gazette — A runaway rail car that crossed the Whirlpool Bridge from the U.S. into Canada wasn't investigated by law enforcement agencies for 11 hours.

The Aug. 12 security breach and subsequent response is now being investigated by law enforcement on both sides of the border.

The incident happened about 1:30 a.m. on Aug. 12 when an autorack — a two-level vehicle carrier train car — somehow broke free from the CSX rail yard in Niagara Falls, N.Y. and started rolling down the tracks toward the Whirlpool Bridge.

An official with CSX said the incident is being investigated as vandalism. It's believed someone pulled a pin connecting the 145-foot-long, 20-foot-tall car to a string of other train cars and released the brakes.

The car rolled about 2 miles down the tracks from the rail yard east of Hyde Park Boulevard to the Whirlpool Bridge, crossed the bridge's upper level tracks and travelled another few hundred feet before coming to a stop near the Via Rail station on Bridge St. in Niagara Falls, Canada.

The Canada Border Services Agency won't say exactly when the train car crossed the bridge, or when they realized it had happened, but they didn't go to investigate until the afternoon.

However, Michael Scioli, a lead border patrol agent with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said alarms on the Canadian side of the bridge went off between 1:30 a.m. and 1:45 a.m. alerting American border guards of an issue. Agents on the U.S. side checked the bridge for anyone or anything attempting to cross, but the car was already out of sight.

“Normally when the alarms trip there's plenty of time for our agents to respond to someone trying to cross into the U.S.,” he said.

Because the train car rolled from the U.S. into Canada, it was the CBSA's jurisdiction to investigate.

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