Train strikes crane, 20 hospitalized

Friday, August 26, 2011
Two engines lie on their sides and several cars are derailed after an eastbound Amtrak train stuck a crane being used to demolish an elevator in the tiny town of Doane, Nebraska, four miles west of Benkelman. Twenty passengers were taken to area hospitals, passengers were loaded on Dundy County High School buses and taken to the gym to await transportation. (Bill Coe/

BENKELMAN, Nebraska -- An Amtrak crew reportedly saw a construction crane blocking the track, but were unable to avoid a collision that derailed two engines and several cars as well as sending 20 to area hospitals.

The remainder of the 175 passengers and 17 crewmembers were taken by school bus to the Dundy County High School.

View video here.

Rescue crews transport injured passengers to an ambulance, while uninjured and "walking wounded" passengers wait to board buses to the school. (Bill Coe/bccasualphotography)

An air ambulance was called in to the Dundy County Hospital, but no patients were confirmed to have been flown out.

The crane was being used in the demolition of an elevator in Doane, Nebraska, when it somehow got across the tracks. The crash occurred at 7:51 a.m. MDT.

The train, No. 6, the eastbound California Zephyr, was enroute from Emeryville, California, to Chicago, leaving the San Francisco Bay area on Aug. 24.

The remains of a construction crane show the violence of the impact. (Bill Coe/

"There was a phenomenal response," said Amy Frederick, publisher of the Benkelman Post, who said every area fire department and rescue squad responded to the scene, and members of the community responded to passengers' needs.

Amtrak managers and representatives of BNSF, the track owner, are enroute to the scene, according to a release.

"We are saddened by any injury and appreciate the emergency response by local and state agencies," according to the release.

Watch video on your smart phone.

Persons with questions about their friends and family aboard this train have a special number to call for information: (800) 523-9101.

Regional editor Connie Jo Discoe was on the scene at press time, and City Editor Bruce Baker was taking aerial photos and video. Check for the latest updates.

The boom from a construction crane lies on one side of the track, the base on the other after an Amtrak train struck the equipment Friday morning. Twenty people were taken to area hospitals, the rest of the passengers and crew to a local high school before being released. (Bruce Baker/McCook Daily Gazette)
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  • That had to be a hell of a ride for the crew on the engines. Hope they were not seriously hurt.

    Lucky that the passenger cars stayed upright.

    -- Posted by goarmy67 on Fri, Aug 26, 2011, at 1:24 PM
  • Try Max Nebraska, not Doane.

    -- Posted by orli65 on Fri, Aug 26, 2011, at 2:07 PM
  • Doane is correct, that is the old elevator across the road from where our old country school used to be located.

    -- Posted by buffalo on Fri, Aug 26, 2011, at 2:30 PM
  • Sorry orli65, Doane is correct. Doane is unincorporated area west of Benkelman. Terrific response from area EMS and Dundy County Stratton Schools to provide transportation and comfort for passengers.

    -- Posted by TravRN on Fri, Aug 26, 2011, at 2:34 PM
  • The wrecking crew is tearing down the Doane,

    old Ham Elevator in Benkelman and also the Max.

    Elevator. I lived in Dundy County for 63 years a know a few facts. I am buying some of the lumber.

    It's interesting how facts get distorted by people who don't know sic em about it.


    -- Posted by Arkval on Fri, Aug 26, 2011, at 3:10 PM
  • Everyone came together like they should during such a tragedy. Bless our Lord no one was seriously injured.

    Orli and Fred, if you don't know what you're talking about, don't say anything. It makes you look really stupid!

    -- Posted by Rural Citizen on Fri, Aug 26, 2011, at 3:43 PM
  • The one good thing that will come out of this a lot of people back east will realize how wonderful the people are living in the rural southwest area of Nebraska.

    -- Posted by salamat on Sat, Aug 27, 2011, at 9:53 AM
  • I'm guessing they're also wondering why some idiot from southwest Nebraska left a crane in the way of the tracks. Good thing no one was seriously hurt.

    -- Posted by bberry on Sat, Aug 27, 2011, at 11:47 AM
  • If the crane operator wasn't injured, I would imagine he went home and changed his pants!

    What a moron to have the crane blocking the track.

    -- Posted by goarmy67 on Sun, Aug 28, 2011, at 3:38 PM
  • Fred, I think positive and thank God everyday. Southwest Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado should be very proud and people everyone should take notice. We take care of our people and others who may be in trouble.

    -- Posted by Rural Citizen on Mon, Aug 29, 2011, at 7:53 AM
  • I just want everyone to know, the man operating the crane ( tearing down elevators) is NOT from southwest nebraska. Iowa. And to say how proud I am of our little communities, coming together, for a major disaster. Could have been so much worse.

    -- Posted by redjacket on Mon, Aug 29, 2011, at 12:05 PM
  • It is so nice to see a community open it's doors to people in need. Nobody will ask for anything in return, and the travelers went about their way. The Lord smiles.

    -- Posted by Hugh Jassle on Mon, Aug 29, 2011, at 9:39 PM
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