Two die in train crash near the Salton Sea

Times Staff Writer

A Union Pacific freight train engineer and conductor were killed Saturday when their train crashed into the rear of another near the Salton Sea, derailing nearly a dozen locomotives and rail cars, a Union Pacific spokesman said.

Both trains were on an eastbound track near Mecca shortly before 1 p.m. when one crashed into the other.

One train was carrying 60 cars of rock material from Victorville to Arizona.

The second, heading to Arkansas from Long Beach with 111 cars carrying shipping containers, was the train that was hit.


The force of the crash caused three locomotives on the 60-car train and eight rail cars on the train hauling containers to derail, said James Barnes, director of media relations for Union Pacific.

One of the locomotives caught fire, he said.

The conductor and the engineer died at the scene, he said. He declined to release their names, citing the privacy of their families.

Barnes said the cause of the accident was under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board and Union Pacific. He declined to comment on why one train was stopped on the tracks or whether the engineer of the other train was impaired in any way.

Service has been restored on the line, he said.

The collision is the second deadly freight train accident in the area in recent years.