Allegheny Mountain Radio
Just before 1:30 p.m. Friday, October 11, an H&H Fisher logging truck driven by Danny Lee Kimble, age 38 of Bartow, collided with the Cheat Mountain Salamander passenger train at the Cheat Mountain Bridge on Rt 250 in southern Randolph County. The fully loaded westbound truck struck the train, and preliminary investigations suggest that he did not appear to brake before hitting the train; however the accident remains under investigation. Kimble was pronounced dead at the scene.
Bartow-Frank-Durbin fire chief Buster Varner says the front of the logging truck, normally eight feet long, was crushed to two feet when it struck the train and it took more than three hours to remove Kimble’s body. The BFD volunteer rescue squad was the first on the scene and assisted Randolph County Emergency services, as well as other Pocahontas County emergency crews and local and state law enforcement in responding to the accident. Two cars of the passenger train carrying tourists were affected – one was turned over on its side, the other left at a precarious and unstable angle until it could stabilized by rescue workers.
As of Friday afternoon Pocahontas County Emergency Services Director Shawn Dunbrack said at least 50 were hurt and were transferred to Davis Memorial Hospital in Elkins. Randolph County Emergency Services Director Jim Wise says at least three people were injured critically, and the rest were thought to range from minor injuries to being traumatized but otherwise unhurt as a result of the accident. Later information provided by Sandy Burky, director of passenger services for the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad, which operates the Salamander trains, says there were 66 people on board the train Friday, 63 passengers and three crew.
According to the schedule posted on the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley website, this was one of three possible trips that the Salamander takes. The train involved in the accident Friday departed the Elkins depot at 10:15 a.m. and was scheduled to return by 5 p.m. The Salamander also makes a nine-hour round trip to the town of Spruce that departs from Elkins, and a three-hour excursion to Spruce that departs from the Cheat Bridge station at noon.
Due to the accident at the bridge, the road was shut down and traffic diverted until the road was cleared. It was reopened a little after 10 a.m. Saturday, October 12.