Boy, Age 13, Release Brake on 132-Ton Rail Car; Runaway Railcar Crashes into Antique Locomotive Near Passenger Platform

The Utica Police Department believes a 13 year-old set a rail car free but did not know it would cause a runaway and ultimately a crash one mile away.

Video cameras at Utica’s Union Station in central New York show a runaway New York, Susquehanna and Western freight car rolling down on the county-owned tracks during the evening rush. A second camera with a different angle on the station platform shows the car hitting the 100-year-old locomotive and ramming it through a station wall. The second view also shows waiting passengers running for their lives as they realize the danger.

A first video view facing away from the station shows the car rolling past three people walking along the tracks. The railcar hits a vehicle, slightly injuring the driver, before ending its trip with a crash into the antique locomotive.

“If a 13-year-old could do it with such ease, imagine what an individual wishing to inflict harm on local residents could do.”

— U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer

Police said a teenager told them he accidentally kicked the rail car’s latch while playing on the railcar. The action sent the railcar free — traveling more than a mile through Utica, New York on July 21, 2015.

Damage is estimated at $1 million.

Local politicians and officials are upset that the Federal Railroad Administration, who helped investigate the crash reported “no indications that the train crew that delivered the train car to the private company violated any federal securement regulations in this incident.”

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer asked federal authorities Wednesday to consider stricter safety rules for unattended trains.

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