Update Tuesday 10:15aAn federal, independent agency from Washington D.C. is investigating the collision of two Union Pacific trains that took the lives of three people.
It has been confirmed engineers Dan Hall and John Hall (no relation) and conductor Brian L. Stone were killed when their trains collided on the railroad tracks between Goodwell and Guymon, OK. Conductor Juan Zurita survived the crash after jumping off of his train.
"The NTSB is an independent federal agency and our job is to determine the probable cause of the accidents and make recommendations so they don't happen again," NTSB Member Mark Rosekind stated. "We pick rail, highway, marine and pipelines if they have a national impact. What got our attention here was a single track, head-on collision."
NTSB is searching for any and all evidence that could determine the cause of the collision.
"A team will basically be looking at operations, track, signals, mechanical, human performance, survival factors and event recorders," Rosekind said. "It's very likely they'll be on scene for five days thoroughly documenting the site and collecting all the factual information."
The NTSB team arrived in Oklahoma Sunday night. When they got to the scene of the crash, according to Rosekind, all they saw was fire and smoke. The fire continued into Monday, and the investigation could not begin until Monday morning.
"Really, from an investigation standpoint, we're focused on three things: the human and the machine and the environment. So, those are the big areas we will look at, not just on-scene. The reason it takes us a year is we have to look at all the factors that could fit into one of those that could have played a part, and also all the ones we can rule out that did not play a role."
As for the people of Goodwell, many are saying this is like nothing they have ever seen.
"There was one train wreck at one time," Marty Hans pointed out. "It was a long time ago. This one's worse."
"It's pretty bad," Kenneth Mason added. "It looks like it's in a movie."
Unfortunately, this accident was reality. And Rosekind said the goal of the NTSB is to get answers and to prevent another accident like this occurring.
"For us, every accident is horrible and we, one, want to make sure we acknowledge those first responders who've done just a terrific," he said. "And we also always offer condolences to family and friends. And that's why, for us, the mission is very straight forward- identify the probable cause, make recommendations so this kind of thing does not happen again."
The team hosted a press conference Monday evening announcing signals, crossings and brakes had been looked into, and nothing out of the ordinary stood out to investigators.
KGYN Radio News reported Mark Rosekind stating, "One train had the right of way. Weâ??re still getting the data to figure out what was scheduled to happen. There was a side track and weâ??re trying to figure out what was supposed to be where and when. There are sidings at Goodwell, one mile west of the accident site, and at Guymon, eight miles east, but it was unclear which train had the obligation to yield."
One witness shared information with officials, which Rosekind said was "extremely helpful." The NTSB is hoping to speak with the surviving crewman to learn more. A preliminary factual report will be given in ten days.
Updated information about the NTSB's findings can be accessed on the NTSB website.