Accident Database

Report ID# 42

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Accident Description

Two canoeists, a man and a woman, climbed onto a trestle over the Quaboag River in Massachussets to scout a rapid prior to a scheduled trip. They were killed instantly by an Amtrack Metroliner passenger train. The train, moving at 90 miles per hour, ran silently on a downhill grade. The pair, distracted by the rapids, could have stepped onto an adjoining set of tracks but did not. The apparently never saw or heard the train.

Source: Al Brailey, Appalachian Mountain Club

Paddlers who use train tracks for access often underestimate the dangers. Trains require lots of room to stop. The average engineer kills between 8 and 12 people during his career; he can blow the whistle and lock the brakes, but anything he sees on the tracks ahead must move aside or die. Paddlers must use extra vigilance to compensate for the noise of the water and the distractions of rapids. They must be extra careful when portaging with their head in a boat. Trestles are especially dangerous, and paddlers who need to cross a river should consider doing so by water.

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