Junction City man killed
By TONI WALTHALL News-Times Staff The mood was somber Wednesday around Union County offices, as word spread that a train-truck collision had claimed the life of one of their own.
Charles L. Dulaney, 61, of Junction City, was traveling north on Arkansas 7 shortly after 11 a.m., when the loaded gravel truck he was driving collided with the side of a moving train near the Pilgrim’s Pride feed mill. Dulaney was declared dead at the scene.
Union County Judge Bobby Edmonds was in Felsenthal participating in what should have been a happy occasion – the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission dedication ceremonies for the Grand Marais Turning Basin and the new two-tier fishing pier – when he was notified of the fatal accident by Union County Sheriff Ken Jones.
All traffic in the area was detoured around the site and the road, between Arkansas 7B (North West Avenue) and the U.S. 167 B interchange, remained closed late Wednesday afternoon.
Part of the roadway and railroad tracks at the crossing were damaged, requiring repair before traffic could be allowed to pass. Jones said he expected the road repairs could be completed late Wednesday night, but said he expected the road to remain closed through this morning. The closure will allow investigators and cleanup crews to work at the scene without interference.
According to Jones, the train was carrying a full load of granular ammonia nitrate at the time of the accident. Some of the cars were derailed by the impact, at least one spilling part of its contents onto the ground. Mussop, of El Dorado, was called to the site to vacuum up the chemical granules.
"Basically, ammonia nitrate is nothing more than fertilizer, but there is a danger to it," Jones said. "It can be explosive under the right conditions."
The El Dorado Fire Department responded after those on-scene reported an engine on fire.
At Jones’ request, the Arkansas State Police investigated the accident, while UCSO deputies assisted in the investigation and with traffic control.
Investigators from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality and the Arkansas Health Department responded. El Dorado Chemical hired a company to upright the overturned train cars.
A team of Arkansas Highway Police investigators will inspect the truck to determine if equipment failure was involved, but witnesses at the scene told investigators that they saw no signs that Dulaney attempted to stop.
Dulaney’s body was sent to the Arkansas Medical Examiner, where it will undergo an autopsy.
Coroner Curtis Butterfield notified the family.
Edmonds said Dulaney had been a "faithful employee" since 1997, and had worked in various capacities for the county.
Edmonds and other county employees were "shocked" to hear of the accident.
"I talked to him this morn ing. He was a good guy," said Edmonds. "He was not a fast driver. In fact, he was one of the slower drivers we have. We feel like something had to have happened before" (impact).
Edmonds said Dulaney was working at the time of the accident, hauling gravel to a Bethel Road site (near Norphlet) where county road crews were working.
"He was always there and willing to do what we asked of him. He will certainly be missed," Edmonds said.