NTSB: Ellicott City derailment investigation will be a long one

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. (WMAR) - At a press conference held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, officials with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said the investigation into a train derailment that killed two teens and left coal and rail cars littered along Main Street Ellicott City would be a long one.

Why?

Officials say it has to do with the historic nature of the town and the potential environmental impact of the incident and cleanup efforts. NTSB investigators say they worked through the night to gather the facts and would not speculate on a cause but did share some details and rehash info shared on Tuesday afternoon.

NTSB investigator Jim Southworth said a camera on the front of the train revealed the train was traveling at the appropriate speed limit. He said the at some point there was a break in the air line for the air brake system -- causing the emergency brakes to engage.

As of 11 a.m. 18 of the 21 wrecked cars had been removed from their resting place on tracks or in nearby areas. By 4 p.m. officials were working to remove the final mangled rail car and repairing damaged pieces of track.

"This is a well-orchestrated industrial ballet," Southworth said. "It's an incredibly challenging location unlike any other I've seen. It's exponentially dangerous, and it's cause for very careful and deliberate work."

Southworth said crews are being forced to remove damaged cars piece-by-piece because of the tight area around the site of the crash.

NTSB investigators say an engineer in training was operating the train when the accident happened.

Check back with ABC2 News as we continue to develop this story.

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