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Officials looking for clues after fatal rail yard accident

When we picture train accidents, most of us have visions in our heads of high-speed collisions between two locomotives or railroad crossing accidents involving inattentive motorists. These visions, while technically accurate, are still only part of the entire picture.

The unfortunate reality is that those who work for railroad companies are always facing potentially deadly job-related risks.

To illustrate, consider a recent tragedy right here in Illinois in which two men lost their lives while working in the rail yard of an agricultural supplements plant. 

According to sources, the two men were cleaning a tanker car filled with just a few inches of a corn-based liquid product in the rail yard of the Pekin-based plant, when one of them opened the sealed hatch located atop the tanker car.

While local law enforcement officials and officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are still trying to piece together exactly what happened, preliminary reports indicate that the man who opened the hatch somehow managed to fall into the car, and when it became clear he was unable to exit, his co-worker attempted a rescue.

When the two men failed to emerge, witnesses summoned emergency responders who arrived at the scene within minutes, donning both masks and oxygen tanks when they detected a large amount of carbon monoxide present inside the tanker.

Tragically, the man who attempted to rescue his co-worker was pronounced dead at the scene, while the co-worker, who was transferred to an area hospital for treatment, died shortly thereafter.

As mentioned earlier, both state and federal officials are trying to learn more about the circumstances of the accident, including who employed the two workers, whether the necessary safety precautions had been taken and, most significantly, whether the carbon monoxide should have even been present.  

Stories like these serve to underscore how those families who lose a loved one in either railroad accidents or industrial accidents, should strongly consider speaking with an experienced legal professional who can help uncover what really happened and whether certain parties should be held accountable in a court of law.

Source: The Peoria Journal Star, "Two workers killed Tuesday in industrial accident at Agridyne in Pekin," Michael Smothers, June 24, 2014

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