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Amtrak Train Derailment Injures 12

May 5, 1998

ROUND ROCK, Texas (AP) _ An Amtrak train carrying 104 passengers derailed today after hitting a garbage truck that was on the tracks, the Texas Department of Public Safety said. At least a dozen people were injured.

Nine cars, including two locomotives, were off the track between Round Rock and Hutto. Three cars were on their side, including both locomotives. One briefly caught fire but it was extinguished.

DPS spokesman Mike Cox said the truck’s driver, employed by Central Texas Refuse, was severely injured and airlifted to Brackenridge Hospital in nearby Austin.

The driver, Cody Joe Pearson, was in critical condition, according to hospital spokeswoman Jennifer Howard-Brown. The train’s conductor, Rudolpho P. Quesada, was in fair condition, she said.

Ten more were taken to two other area hospitals.

Loraine Ondrej, chief nursing officer at Columbia St. David’s Round Rock Hospital, said five people were in stable condition. ``Their injuries are mainly bruises, contusions, back pain,″ she said, adding that the hospital expected all to be released today.

Five were being treated at Georgetown Hospital, said spokeswoman Brooke Bulow. She said all were in stable condition.

Ed Trandahl, a spokesman for Union Pacific, which owns the track, said the train collided with the truck at a crossing.

``We are told the crew of the train in the lead locomotive were temporarily trapped but then were able to get out,″ Trandahl said in a phone interview from the railroad’s headquarters in Omaha, Neb.

``Seven of the eight passenger cars (behind the two locomotives), derailed but stayed upright,″ he added.

A woman answering the telephone at Central Texas Refuse said, ``They are still trying to find out everything, how the driver is and what happened. We won’t have any comment until we find out more.″

State police got the call about the accident at 9:31 a.m. It occurred about 20 miles north of Austin.

The train, which had 13 crew members, origniated in San Antonio and was bound for Chicago.

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