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Runaway Rail Car Raises Public Safety Concerns

Barry Solow, flickr

A curious child may have exposed a common railroad practice that lawmen fear could be exploited by terrorists.

A 265,000 pound rail car - loaded with plastic pellets - was parked, waiting to be picked up by a train and pulled to its final destination. The Utica Observer-Dispatch says a 13-year-old playing on the car caused it to break loose and roll, careening through the city, injuring a motorist when it collided with a car and damaging Utica’s Union Station, where it bumped an antique locomotive, shoving it into the stairs for the station’s overpass.

Police Chief Mark Williams was alarmed, telling the paper  if a youth can disable the car's air brakes and set it loose, imagine if someone wanted to do a planned attack or if the car was set into motion during rush hour.

Federal Railroad Administration investigators found nothing that suggested the railroad was operating outside of standard practices.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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