Railroader's leg severed in remote control mishap

A railroader was in critical but stable condition at Queen of the Valley Hospital in Napa Valley, Calif., on September 19 after his left leg was crushed when two train cars collided at a switching yard on September 17.

Kent Kahle, 46, an employee of California Northern Railroad Company, was attaching train cars to an engine using remote control when the accident occurred, Sheriff's Capt. Gene Lyerla said in the September 19 issue of the Napa Valley Register.

Kahle was riding on one of the flat cars used to transport containers when, for an unknown reason, an engine collided with the flatbed, knocking Kahle off the car and pinning him underneath it, Lyerla said.

The accident occurred at about 2:20 p.m. at 498 Napa Junction Road, the railroad company's locomotive storage facility and switching yard.

When American Canyon firefighters arrived at the scene, Kahle was on the ground with major injuries to his left leg, Fire Chief Keith Caldwell said.

"The firefighters immediately began first aid to control the bleeding," Caldwell said.

Kahle was transported by a California Highway Patrol helicopter to the Queen, where he remains in the intensive care unit today (September 18).

Police are still investigating the accident, Lyerla said.

The United Transportation Union reported on its website that the victim is a UTU member, and that the California Northern Railroad Company is owned by Rail America.

On August 6, a remote control accident took place on another Rail America subsidiary, the Puget Sound & Pacific in Shelton, Wash. In that instance, a runaway remote control locomotive and several cars rolled downhill for three miles before colliding with a tractor trailer at the entrance of a lumber mill. No one was injured.

No one was injured on August 6 when a runaway Puget Sound & Pacific locomotive and several cars crashed into a tractor trailer before coming to a halt just outside of a lumber mill in Shelton, Wash. The PS&P is the second Rail America subsidiary to endure a major remote control accident in the past two months. On September 17, a UTU member on the California Northern Railroad lost his leg in a remote control accident.


© 2002 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers