Neighbors, emergency management respond to Collegedale train collision

Two Norfolk Southern employees received only minor injuries, according to Hamilton County official

7pm UPDATE: Collegedale Police report the intersection is now back open to traffic.


COLLEGEDALE, Tenn. (WDEF) — Hundreds of first responders were called out to a violent train derailment in Collegedale Tuesday afternoon.

Hamilton County’s Amy Maxwell confirmed in a press release that a tractor-trailer was driving west on Tucker Road, carrying a 134-foot concrete truss beam.

But the back of the trailer did not clear an oncoming train in time.

Shortly after, the two vehicles collided, and first responders got to work.

Maxwell says a call of a “large train derailment” was received around 12:30 Tuesday afternoon.

The collision occurred at Apison Pike and University Drive, with the former currently undergoing construction to widen the road.

Many in the community audibly heard the impact.

“I was in my house on the second floor and heard the thud,” said Isaac Fortunato, a neighboring resident. “I was there with my wife. She actually thought it was maybe one of the beams from the construction that fell or something like that. [It] kind of shook the house a little bit, in a way. I guess [with] the glass … you kind of hear the resonance, in a way.

According to fire officials, the driver of the tractor-trailer was stopped on the tracks waiting for a green light on Tucker Road.

During that time, the railroad activated its crossing arms.

Following the collision, Maxwell says two Norfolk Southern employees were transported to local area hospitals with only minor injuries.

“The fire officials are confirming that we had three locomotives from Norfolk Southern,” Maxwell said. “Also, 16 cars have derailed the railroad tracks with a significant amount of diesel spill.”

According to a press release from Maxwell, “absorbent booms and pads” were used to clean the surrounding area.

She calls the whole situation a “disastrous mess.”

“Hamilton County hazmat team is here, as you can see, with Chattanooga Fire Department and Tri-Community Volunteer Fire Department that are here to contain the diesel spill,” Maxwell said. “It’s gone into the creek area, so they’re trying to stop it from flowing downstream some more.”

Additionally, Maxwell told News 12 that “pending charges may happen to the tractor-trailer driver.”

She also later said in her press release that “10 railroad cars derailed,” at the scene.

She had told News 12 prior that it had been 16 rail cars.

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