FONTANA, Calif. – A surgical team amputated the arm of a conductor Friday to free him from the wreckage of a locomotive that struck a slow-moving freight train on tracks 50 miles east of Los Angeles.
The conductor and engineer were in the cab of the 69-car westbound Union Pacific train when it struck a 100-car Union Pacific steel hauler being pushed out of a rail yard onto the main line for an eastbound run, Union Pacific spokesman Aaron Hunt said.
The conductor was hospitalized in critical condition after the collision late Thursday. The engineer was injured slightly.
Several cars derailed and the locomotive wound up on top of a freight car, San Bernardino County fire spokesman Maurice Moore said.
Firefighters were unable to get the trapped conductor out of the wrecked locomotive, and a surgical team was called to amputate his arm, Moore said. He was expected to survive.
I-beams pierced the locomotive, trapping the engineer.
Hunt said computer data will be examined to determine the speed of the trains at the time of impact.
The wreck alongside eastbound lanes of Interstate 10 at Cherry Avenue created a traffic crush for more than four hours.
Emergency vehicles used the freeway to access the wreckage. It was initially feared hazardous materials might be leaking from a rail tanker, but it was later determined there were no dangerous materials in the wreckage.
Eastbound freeway lanes reopened by 4 a.m. Friday.
Freight and Amtrak trains that use the mainline track were routed around the accident site. Hunt said there was little damage to the track.
Metrolink commuter trains use other tracks.
(This version CORRECTS Corrects with Union Pacific saying injured engineer and conductor were in locomotive cab and conductor's arm was amputated, not engineer's; second train was being pushed out of rail yard onto main line when collision occurred. Adds details.)