UPDATED: GPS distraction blamed for truck-train collision

Driver was searching for cellphone when second crash occurred

By Craig Brown and Eric Florip

Published:

Updated: February 7, 2013, 7:27 PM

 

A truck driver who was adjusting his electronic navigational aid ran off Highway 14 and landed his tractor-trailer on the railroad tracks Thursday afternoon.

But that wasn’t the worst of it for Rasul A. Tedorov, 39, of Vancouver. While he was trying to locate his cellphone in the overturned truck’s cab, his rig was rear-ended by a freight train.

No one was injured in the crashes, which occurred about 12:40 p.m. about 10 miles east of Stevenson and 55 miles east of Vancouver.

BNSF Railway spokesman Gus Melonas said the train — two locomotives and two freight cars — was traveling about 45 mph at the time.

The train crew immediately applied emergency brakes and managed to slow down to 17 mph by the time the locomotive hit the rig, Melonas said, but the impact peeled apart the empty trailer.

The train carried two loads of lumber, but stayed on the tracks.

“There is significant damage to the locomotive,” Melonas said. The cargo was unscathed.

The crash ruptured the 2006 Kenworth’s diesel fuel tanks, bringing hazardous material crews to the scene. The spill was not believed to be a threat to the Columbia River, Melonas said. BNSF, the Washington State Department of Transportation and other agencies also responded.

Other trains were able to make it through the area on a side track later, Melonas said. The main track, which sees about 35 trains pass through daily, was expected to reopen by 7 p.m. Thursday.

Tedorov will be charged with second-degree negligent driving, according to the state patrol.