A railroad bridge in southeast Iowa collapsed late last night as a train was going over it, sending a locomotive into the floodwaters of the Iowa River near Columbus Junction. Kenny Marlette, a dispatcher with the Louisa County Sheriff’s Department, took the call from a railroad employee about a half-hour before midnight.
Marlette says: "The subject advised that the railroad bridge had collapsed with the conducter in the engine. I took the appropriate measures, paging out all ambulance and fire personnel and getting deputies to respond to the scene."
The lone engineer on board was rescued, though his name and condition haven’t been released. He was rushed to University Hospitals in Iowa City. Marlette says the locomotive didn’t fall into the Iowa River itself, but it fell into floodwaters near the river.
He says the river is out of its banks right there and the locomotive fell into the water beside the river, not the main channel. Marlette says it was about a 20-foot drop for the locomotive. He says firefighters on scene said the water was waist-deep inside the locomotive.
The locomotive was apparently not pulling any cars, according to Marlette, and he couldn’t speculate on whether the flooding caused the bridge to collapse. He says, "I’ve heard that in the past couple of days, the railroad was out there inspecting the bridge and I’m under the understanding that there wasn’t anything wrong with the bridge." Marlette says the locomotive was owned by the Iowa, Chicago and Eastern Railroad.