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Authorities Investigate Fatal Train Derailment

October 24th, 2013 | WMFE- with reporting by Amy Kiley. The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating a fatal train derailment in Sanford. Rescue workers spent several hours searching for the body of a man who was killed when four rail cars loaded with gravel tipped off the tracks early Thursday morning.

[Rescue crews work at the scene of a train derailment in Sanford. Photo: Amy Kiley / WMFE]

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The derailment happened about 6.40 am, spilling gravel near West State Road 46 in Sanford.

Rescue workers spent three hours searching for the body of Christopher Putfark of Deltona, who was trapped under a rail car and a pile of gravel. 

Floria Department of Transportation spokesman Steve Olson says Putfark was travelling on the end car of a ten car train as it backed up, acting as a "spotter" for the engineer driving the locomotive. 

The train, owned by Conrad Yelvington Distributors, Inc. was carrying gravel for the construction of Central Florida's SunRail commuter line, and the derailment happened near the site of Sanford's new SunRail station. 

Olson says the project should continue on schedule despite the incident.

"Bear in mind we have a 32-mile corridor, and there’s work that needs to be done all along that whole 32 miles," he said.

"It may impact us up here at Sanford a little bit, but, overall, it won’t impact us on the overall corridor."

Olson said officials will maintain access to the construction site during the investigation but that the Sanford station there is almost finished.

The Highway Patrol is teaming with train experts to examine whether speed, visual obstructions or faulty equipment might have caused the derailment.  They say the incident is an industrial accident, not a crash.

SunRail is scheduled to begin next year. 


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