Railroad Accident Brief

Switchman Struck between Two Union Pacific Rail Cars

Mason City, Iowa
July 31, 2012

NTSB Number: RAB-13-05
Adopted: September 27, 2013

The Accident

On July 31, 2012, at 2:25 a.m., a Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) switchman was killed after being crushed between two rail cars in the Mason City, Iowa, rail yard. The switchman was assigned to yard job YMC04. He went on duty on July 30, 2012, at 10:30 p.m., along with an engineer and a footboard yardmaster. During switching operations, the switchman discovered a coupler knuckle with a missing pin. While making repairs to the coupler knuckle, he was struck and fatally injured by two rail cars that rolled into him.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the accident was the switchman not ensuring the two rail cars on track 3 were properly secured before attempting to repair the coupler knuckle on rail car UTLX 203998. Contributing to the accident was the lack of a thorough job briefing by the rail yard crew, specifically a review of securement requirements, before the switchman entered the gage of the rail.