Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

CSX train hits truck near Dade City; 17 empty cargo cars derail

DADE CITY — Witnesses said it sounded like a sonic boom.

A CSX train slammed into a Helena Chemical Co. truck Tuesday morning, sending the truck's driver and one of the train's conductors to the hospital. The collision derailed 17 of the train's 77 cars and destroyed several hundred feet of railroad track.

The accident happened just after 11 a.m. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Kim Nagelhout, 51, a Helena employee, was turning into the company's driveway off Old Lakeland Highway, southeast of downtown Dade City.

A CSX train heading north on tracks that cut across the driveway struck the right side of Nagelhout's truck. The train wasn't carrying any cargo.

Nagelhout, of Zephyrhills, was airlifted to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa with serious injuries. He was treated and released about 5 p.m., according to FHP.

Willie Brown, 52, one of the train's two engineers, was transported to Florida Hospital Zephyrhills with minor injuries. The other conductor suffered only bumps and bruises, according to FHP.

Misti Keene, a Helena employee, ran to the scene after hearing a "big boom."

She saw rescue workers pulling Nagelhout out of the truck.

"I don't know if he didn't see (the train) or what," Keene said. "It's just a big mess out there."

The accident is still under investigation, but trains generally have the right of way, said Sgt. Steve Gaskins of the Florida Highway Patrol.

"Drivers have to be aware," he said.

"There's no sudden stopping for a train."

There are no electronic railroad crossing arms where the train tracks intersect Helena's driveway, but several signs warn drivers to stop and look both ways before crossing.

The accident occurred just north of where Robert Stephens, 79, died last October after his car was hit by a train at an unguarded crossing.

Iris Helveston, 66, was taking out her trash Tuesday when the train struck Nagelhout's vehicle. She lives about two blocks from the tracks. Trains chug by multiple times each day, but this one sounded different.

There was a grinding, screeching sound, she said. And then a loud boom.

"I turned around and saw the black cars jumping," she said. "They were just flopping in the air."

The train came to a final stop about 500 feet north of the collision. A dust cloud as high as the power lines rose over the 17 derailed cars that leaned on either side of the tracks.

Rescue workers kept spectators away from the wreckage. They were afraid the components that helped connect the precariously balanced cars could snap under the pressure.

Gaskins of the FHP said the accident may have been worse if the train had been loaded down with cargo. The extra weight would have made it harder for the train to stop, he said.

Gaskins expected the cleanup process could take at least 24 hours and would affect train traffic throughout the region.

Helen Anne Travis can be reached at or (813) 435-7312.

CSX train hits truck near Dade City; 17 empty cargo cars derail 03/03/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 4, 2009 10:00am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Obama's secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin's election assault


    WASHINGTON — Early last August, an envelope with extraordinary handling restrictions arrived at the White House. Sent by courier from the CIA, it carried "eyes only" instructions that its contents be shown to just four people: President Barack Obama and three senior aides.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Barack Obama shake hands at the COP21 UN Conference on Climate Change in Paris, France, Monday, Nov. 30, 2015. [Mikhail Klimentyev | Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP]
  2. GOP's challenge: Finding votes for Senate health care bill (w/video)


    WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has finally unwrapped his plan for dismantling President Barack Obama's health care law. Now comes his next challenge — persuading enough Republicans to back the measure and avert a defeat that could be shattering for President Donald Trump and the GOP.

    Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaks to reporters at the Capitol after Republicans released their long-awaited bill to scuttle much of President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 22, 2017. He is one of four GOP senators to say they are opposed it but are open to negotiations, which could put the measure in immediate jeopardy. [Associated Press]
  3. Harmeling first woman to receive lifetime honor at Sneaker Soiree in Tampa

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — For the last quarter-century, she has combined passion and meticulousness to keep the Gasparilla Distance Classic humming and evolving. Indefatigable and detailed, Susan Harmeling braces for every race-weekend contingency.

    Susan Harmeling gives a speech after accepting an award  during the annual Sneaker Soiree, at TPepin's Hospitality Centre, Thursday, June 22, 2017.
  4. Manslaughter charges eyed in deadly London fire sparked by refrigerator


    LONDON — Manslaughter charges are among the offenses under consideration in the devastating Grenfell Tower blaze that killed 79 people, London police said Friday.

    A view of part of the Burnham residential tower on the Chalcots Estate showing the bottom section of the building after cladding was removed, in the borough of Camden, north London, Thursday, June 22, 2017. Tests so far have found that at least three high-rise apartment buildings in the U.K. have flammable external panels like the ones believed to have contributed to a fire that killed 79 people in London, Britain's government said Thursday. The local council in Camden, a borough of London, removed cladding from one of its buildings for further testing after tests they commissioned showed some of their panels were of the flammable variety "and not the ones they ordered." It was unclear whether the Camden example was one of the three mentioned by the government. [Associated Press]
  5. PolitiFact: 6 questions about the Senate health care bill and transparency


    Now that a Senate health care bill has been unveiled, senators will be jousting over its provisions to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., joined by, from left, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, speaks following a closed-door strategy session, at the Capitol in Washington on June 20. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)