GOODWELL — The bodies of three men were removed from the twisted wreckage of a head-on collision between two freight trains in Oklahoma's Panhandle and sent to the state medical examiner's office Monday.
The National Transportation Safety Board began its investigation into what caused the Sunday wreck that tossed 30 train cars, crushed locomotives and sparked a diesel fire that burned for almost 24 hours.
The NTSB determined that one of the trains failed to take a side track and give the other locomotive the right of way, NTSB spokesman Mark Rosekind said Monday night. He declined to say which train was on the wrong track but said no malfunction was found in the signals that guide the trains.
“One train had the right of way. We're still getting the data to figure out what was scheduled to happen. There was a side track, and we're trying to figure out what was supposed to be where, and when,” Rosekind said.
Rosekind also said there were no anomalies found in the track during the first day of the investigation, but he stressed that much more information was yet to be collected.
Event recorders in the rear locomotives have been recovered and show no braking problems, and the suspected remnants of another recorder recovered from a front locomotive will be shipped to Washington, D.C., for evaluation, he said.
No cellphones have been recovered, but the safety board is searching for phone records belonging to the crew aboard the trains, Rosekind said.
A witness has been interviewed, and records and documents are being reviewed. Additional interviews will be conducted in the following days, he said.
“The impact left no survivable space in either locomotive,” Rosekind said.
A factual report will be available on the NTSB website in about 10 days, he said.
About the crash
The 10 a.m. Sunday collision occurred about a mile east of Goodwell in Texas County.