Traverse City Record-Eagle

October 9, 2012

Semi-truck driver likely caused train derailment

Woman who lived nearby said the ground shook


KALKASKA — A truck driver likely will receive a citation after he caused a train derailment near South Boardman.

Authorities largely have cleaned up the carnage that resulted when a semi-truck driver pulled in front of a train near the southern Kalkaska County community on Friday. No one was seriously injured.

A Great Lakes Central Railroad locomotive traveling south neared Boardman Road when a driver for Lake City-based Mid Michigan Logging pulled his semi truck onto the tracks.

"He just crossed the tracks right in front of the train," Kalkaska County Undersheriff Abe DeVol said. "He said he didn't see it."

The train hit the truck near its rear axles and nearly ripped the trailer in half. The truck and trailer separated and the train derailed, DeVol said.

The truck carried about 35 tons of wood chips, and about half of that load fell onto or around the tracks. The road was closed until Saturday while crews cleaned the mess, and more work was done Monday to repair a damaged rail.

Dave Morkin, a Traverse City resident, went to the site Friday.

"When we got there, they were hauling away the tractor from the truck," Morkin said. "It was banged up. The truck was pushed out of the way, off to the east side. It was about half ripped in two."

Morkin said a woman who lived nearby said "the ground shook."

"I would say that was one hell of a hit," Morkin said.

The driver, 61, of Cadillac, likely will be ticketed, DeVol said, though an investigation is ongoing. A worker at Mid Michigan Logging said the driver had three broken ribs, but declined further comment.