UPDATED: Two Young Women Dead in Ellicott City Train Derailment
Train carrying coal derailed on the Main Street bridge around 11:45 p.m. Monday, and officials say 21 cars were involved.
OUTSIDE BALTIMORE, MD—Updated 8/21 2:49 p.m.
Two young women died at the site of a CSX train derailment Monday night in Ellicott City, officials have confirmed.
Elizabeth Conway Nass and Rose Mayr, both 19, of Ellicott City, died in the incident, Howard County Police Spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn said Tuesday.
CSX offered its condolences.
"Two young women tragically lost their lives in a train accident this morning near Ellicott City, Maryland," the company wrote in a statement. "CSX wishes to offer its sincere condolences to their families."
Train officials said they know of no other injuries as of Tuesday morning.
Just before midnight Tuesday, 21 cars of an 80-car-long freight train derailed along the CSX line that travels through the Ellicott City historic district, according to Llewellyn.
The train was headed southbound. Train cars and their loads— coal—fell into the parking lot off of Main Street, on the west side of the Patapsco River, said County Executive Ken Ulman said.
Shortly before the two women died in the derailment, they were tweeting about sitting on the train tracks in Ellicott City.
“Levitating,” wrote a Twitter user named Rose Mayr at 10:51 p.m. under the name @r0se_petals, accompanied by a picture of two pairs of women’s feet dangling over the street in Ellicott City.
A Twitter user named Elizabeth Nass (@LizNassty) tweeted at 10:40 p.m. that she was “drinking on top of the Ellicott City sign,” which sits under the train tracks that cross above Main Street, with @r0se_petals.
Preliminary investigations show the women were believed to be "on a walkway alongside the train tracks" and were "crushed by falling coal," according to the Washington Post.
CSX personnel will be removing the fallen train cars in the coming days.
"We’re not talking about a couple of hours" Llewellyn said. "We’re probably talking about a couple of days,” a view echoed by National Transportation Safety Board officials Tuesday.
CSX officials said it "is supporting the investigation of the site under the direction of the National Transportation Safety Board."
According to a statement released by Llewellyn, neither of the two conductors was injured in the accident. CSX is investigating the cause of the derailment which was unknown at about 8 a.m.
Ulman, as well as other county and local officials, expressed condolences Tuesday to the victims and their families.
“The train derailment that occurred earlier this morning in Ellicott City is a terrible tragedy, and I want to extend my deepest sympathies to the families of Elizabeth Nass and Rose Mayr who lost their lives in that accident,” Ulman said in a statement.
When the train first derailed "I just heard a boom," said Brad, a Phoenix Emporium employee. "Then a couple of little rumbles." He ran toward the tracks where, he said "the coal was a foot high." He ran back to the bar to contact his boss.
Fire and rescue crews have been working from the Phoenix Emporium since early Tuesday morning.
Mike Maraini, of Catonsville, was also at the Phoenix. When he saw the train, however, he did not run back to the bar. "I ran up there and took pictures," he said.
Patrick Shawn Moran said that he was first on the scene. Moran lives in Ellicott City and works as a consultant for the State Highway Administration.
"I pulled the car up and turned the beacon on," he said, so that no one would drive up to the scene.
Moran said he then ran up to find the conductor and check the engine. "I started running up the tracks to see if there was anyone injured that I could help," he said, adding "Anyone that wasn't fatally injured."
Main Street will be closed for what Fire Chief William Goddard called an "extended operation." Officials urge drivers to use an alternate route at least through Tuesday.
According to Ulman, representatives from the Maryland State Department of the Environment surveyed the scene and said, tentatively, that there was no serious impact on the Patapsco River.
"It could have been a lot worse, when it comes to chemicals," Ulman said of the spill.
On Aug. 8, a CSX train derailed in Woodstock. No one was injured in that incident.
This article has been edited to indicate crews were at Phoenix Emporium early Tuesday morning.
Check back with Patch as this story develops.