Marland, OK Amtrak and Truck Collision, Dec 1976


Marland, Okla. (AP) - Two crewmen and a truck driver were killed near here Wednesday when Amtrak's "Lone Star" passenger train ripped through an oil transport truck in heavy fog in one of the worst rail disasters in Oklahoma history, authorities said.
There were no major injuries to the 110 passengers or 15 other crew members with the exception of cuts and bruises, Santa Fe railroad officials said.
The train, which had originated in Chicago and was on its way to Houston, was traveling at about 90 miles an hour when the 9 a.m. crash occurred, said conductor WALTER L. HINKLE.
The tank truck, which exploded into flames, was hurled 30 feet upon impact and the wreckage was dragged another mile and one-half before the train slowed to a stop, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said.
Area residents said heavy fog limited visibility to about 10 feet at the time of the crash.
The train's front engine was heavily damaged and the baggage car was destroyed. The train's nine other cars received lesser damages. Officials said damages would be about $500,000.
"I'm surprised the train didn't derail," said R. W. Kurtz, a Santa Fe trainmaster. He called the wreck "one of the worst in Oklahoma history."
Kurtz said the train stayed on the tracks because wreckage debris had been pushed aside instead of under the engine.
The lack of injuries to the passengers, he said, was "a miracle."
Kurtz also said the train was traveling at about 90 miles an hour. He said it had begun to pick up speed after a stop in Ponca City, 10 miles north of here.
The wreckage smoldered until late Wednesday afternoon.
Santa Fe officials said all passenger baggage was lost but that it was insured. Also destroyed were 400 sacks of U.S. mail en route to Oklahoma City and Dallas.
Most of the mail, according to Ponca City Postmaster Jack Harris, was not first class, but parcels and lower-class pieces.
Fire units from Ponca City, Marland and Continental Oil Co. were dispatched to the scene.
The truck, owned by the Koch Oil Co. of Wichita, Kan., was traveling at about 80 miles an hour when it pulled onto the track in front of the train, Highway Patrol troopers said.
Police and railroad officials identified the dead as train engineer E. R. HULSE, 58, and fireman R. C. YOUNG, 60, both of Arkansas City, Kan., and truck driver KENNETH McMAINS, 50, of Ponca City. YOUNG is a former Arkansas City mayor.
The train passengers were taken by bus to the depot in Ponca City where they were later put on chartered buses to Oklahoma City, McAlester and Wichita.
Officials said a Citizens Band radio group alerted Ponca City police to the crash and fire about 40 minutes after the collision.

Del Rio News Herald Texas 1976-12-16