1 dead in train derailment near Sanford

5:56 PM, Oct 24, 2013   |    comments
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SANFORD, Florida (WKMG) - The body of a worker was recovered Thursday morning after he was buried in gravel when several train cars derailed in Sanford, according to officials.

The Florida Highway Patrol identified the man killed in the derailment as Christopher Putfark, 36, of Deltona.  He leaves behind a wife and children.

WKMG reports the derailment occurred around 6:35 a.m. at the SunRail station on State Road 46 near Airport Boulevard.  The incident occurred next to a rail yard where trains are maintained.

According to Florida Department of Transportation spokesman Steve Olson, a Conrad Yelvington Distibutors Inc. freight train delivering ballast, which is gravel or broken stone laid in a railroad bed or used in making concrete, was being pushed from a rail yard to the SunRail construction site when four of the 10 cars derailed and overturned. 

Putfark, a "spotter" on the train, was buried by the gravel and crushed by a rail car, the FHP said.  Crews used heavy equipment to search for him before finding his body.

"There was quite a bit of tonnage of (rock)," said Olson, who estimated the weight of each carload at 100,000 pounds.

Olson said there was an engineer aboard the train as Putfark stood on the outside of a car at the time of the derailment.  It's not know if there were any other witnesses.

Crews will work to upright the derailed cars, Olson said.

"We're going to need even heavier equipment to move the cars," Olson said.

The derailment did not occur on the main rail lines, according to Olson, who added that train traffic should not be affected in the area.

The Florida Highway Patrol will be assisted by FDOT in an industrial investigation of the derailment.

SunRail is a $1 billion commuter train project under construction in Central Florida that will ultimately link DeLand to Poinciana through downtown Orlando, with numerous stops along the way. It's scheduled to start service in 2014, but the entire trek won't be complete until 2016.

"Overall, (the derailment) won't impact (the project," said Olson, adding a caveat that the FHP investigation could potentially cause some construction delays. "The station here is 90 percent complete."

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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