Another Truck Blocks Long Beach Tracks

A CSX worker laughed when he saw the latest mishap on the Long Beach railroad tracks.

"There must be something in the water," he radioed to a colleague.

For the second time in 24 hours, a truck blocked the railroad tracks.

"Well, it makes my heart race, without a doubt," Long Beach Fire Chief George Bass said.

For the second time in 24 hours, Pat Ladner's firefighting squad was dispatched to a potential disaster on the tracks.

"Oh just the same thing ran through our minds," he said, "a train could hit it again."

For Ladner, it was deja vu.

"Chaos. Utter chaos," was his decription of both the Wednesday and Thursday wrecks.

According to Long Beach police, the truck driver in the Thursday accident ignored a no trucks sign at White Harbor Road. The 18 wheeler crushed a railroad crossing arm. Then it screeched to a stop when its jack wedged into the asphalt in front of the tracks. Suddenly, trains had no way to roll through Long Beach.

"Trains come through here everyday," said Chief Bass. "It's a fact of life. And we just prepare as best as we can."

Seconds after the accident, authorities called CSX and slowed down oncoming trains.

A day earlier, nobody had time to make that call. Consequently, a train rammed through a truck Wednesday morning in the heart of downtown Long Beach.

"We discussed it at the station yesterday afternoon," Bass remembered. "We said we were blessed, that there was potential there for a great tragedy."

On Wednesday, the train's engine car derailed. Fortunately, no chemicals spilled out of tanker cars. That accident is why twice a year, Long Beach rescue teams go over their emergency response plans. They're prepared for any situation.

"Best as we can," Ladner said.

In the Thursday case, emergency training was unnecessary. Twenty minutes after the driver nudged his truck off the tracks, a slow moving CSX train safely rolled through the White Harbor crossing.

Long Beach police gave the truck driver a ticket for trying to drive down a "no truck route".