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Amtrak, BNSF suing Cimarron feed company, alleging ‘gross negligence’

Amtrak passenger: A woman 'flew straight past me'

Walter Sanders, a passenger of the derailed Amtrak, said he heard clicks from the train tracks before the cars moved side-to-side and then tipped over. “This older woman just flew straight past me and my sister and hit the window – passed out,” he
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Walter Sanders, a passenger of the derailed Amtrak, said he heard clicks from the train tracks before the cars moved side-to-side and then tipped over. “This older woman just flew straight past me and my sister and hit the window – passed out,” he

Amtrak filed a lawsuit Friday alleging “gross negligence” on the part of a Cimarron company in relation to a derailment in southwest Kansas last month.

The lawsuit, which lists Amtrak and the BNSF Railway Co. as plaintiffs, alleges employees of Cimarron Crossing Feeders left a Kenworth truck “unattended, out of gear, and without any brakes applied” while loading grain March 13 into March 14.

The truck was hauling flaked corn — a type of cattle feed — to feed bins, according to the NTSB.

According to the lawsuit, the truck rolled away from the Cimarron facility downhill to the south, crossing U.S. Highway 50 and striking the side of the railroad tracks. The truck then came to rest on the tracks.

The NTSB has said the force of the truck’s impact shifted the alignment of the tracks by more than one foot.

According to the lawsuit, Cimarron Crossing Feeders then called for a tow truck to remove the Kenworth “without permission or consent from BNSF,” which owns the tracks. The company did not call BNSF or Amtrak to warn about the damaged tracks, the lawsuit alleges.

Shortly after midnight March 14, an Amtrak train traveling east on the tracks derailed near Cimarron, injuring 28 passengers.

According to an NTSB preliminary report released earlier this week, damages were estimated at more than $1.4 million.

The plaintiffs in the case, Amtrak and BNSF, have requested a jury trial in Wichita, according to a civil docket.

A call to Cimarron Crossing Feeders was not returned Saturday afternoon.

Passengers Sarah Dirksen and her daughter, Carly, talk about the train derailment outside Cimarron early Monday morning. More than 30 people were injured; they were taken to Garden City and Dodge City hospitals. (Oliver Morrison/The Wichita Eagle)

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