San Bernardino County

13 Freight Train Cars Derail in Colton

A contractor who was part of the cleanup of the Union Pacific Railroad derailment was injured.

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Thirteen freight train cars and three locomotives derailed Monday in the San Bernardino County community of Colton.

A contractor who was helping with the clean-up at the derailment near 5th and K streets was injured.

Thirteen train cars derailed Monday, but the I-Team learned it's not an isolated incident. San Bernardino County had the most derailments in the state. Lolita Lopez reports March 21, 2022.

A spokesperson for Union Pacific Railroad said one of the cars briefly caught fire. Flames were soon extinguished.

The sound immediately woke up Ashley Mendez at around 7:30 in the morning.
Her camera captured the slow motion crash.

"It was a lot of banging and screeching noises," she said.

She says she couldn't believe the mess of twisted metal piled on the tracks, only about a hundred yards from her home


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"We were really scared if it would have went into the house or something. Thank god it wasn't that close," she said.

But it was much closer to the home Maribel Cervantes and her family live in.

Their backyard is only about 15 yards from the tracks.

"My kids came and say hey! So I went outside and we looked everything was right in our backyard," Cervantes said.

Within minutes, Colton firefighters responded to the scene. They say the train was carrying lumber, and some of it caught on fire but it was quickly contained.

As workers continued to clear off the tracks, Union Pacific railroad officials promised a full investigation to find out why this happened.

"It's like something out of a movie, you know it's scary because it's so close to home," resident Zoey Montero said.

The I-Team has learned that the derailment is far from an isolated incident. In fact, it’s one of dozens that have happened in San Bernardino County in recent years.

The data the I-Team obtained shows the number of derailments increased 42% from 2019 to 2020 in San Bernardino County, while across the state – in all other counties -- the number of derailments actually decreased over that same time.

The number of derailments did decline in San Bernardino County from 2020 to 2021 but the total number was still significantly higher than any other county.

The leading causes for all derailments: switching issues and failure to control.

"I think this is the second time that something like this has happened but this is the biggest one ever," Montero said.

The Federal Railroad Administration said it is sending inspectors to investigate this particular incident, adding in an email: “…Total train accidents includes a wide universe of reportable events including derailments, most of which occur within the confines of rail yards and do not result in significant damages or casualties…”

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