Union Pacific is tight-lipped this week about what caused a 21-car train derailment that happened near Lusk earlier this month, saying it’s still under investigation.
The 21 coal cars derailed July 10.
They were headed from around the tiny community of Bill and derailed about 4 miles southeast of Lusk at 6:30 that morning, spilling coal into the barrow ditch and landscape, but leaving the operators uninjured, according to Union Pacific and authorities.
“It is still under investigation,” said a Union Pacific spokeswoman Tuesday after multiple Cowboy State Daily requests for an update.
Niobrara County Sheriff Randy Starkey said he also is unsure why the cars derailed, but the question isn’t his to answer since there were no apparent crimes or injuries.
Union Pacific sent its own crews to clean up the mess, said Starkey, though county personnel were willing to help.
“We were available if they needed traffic control and stuff, but we didn’t have to go out there,” said Starkey. “They didn’t need traffic control because nothing was on the road.”
James Santistevan, Niobrara County emergency management coordinator, told Cowboy State Daily he doesn’t know the official cause either, but the cleanup didn’t take too long. Trains were running down the track by 9 a.m. July 11.
On the day of the crash, Santistevan said that at least an engineer and brakeman were on the train and the cars appeared to have spilled their coal onto land while “crushing into themselves.
Clair McFarland can be reached at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com.