Two 19-year-old women killed in crash
Update 12:30 p.m.:More details have surfaced about the overnight train derailment in Ellicott City, Md. that led to the deaths of 19-year-old women Elizabeth Conway Nass and Rose Louese Mayr, both graduates of local Mount Hebron High School.
"I was getting a glass of water and the train goes by a couple times a day, but this time it was so loud," said Lauren Ward, who lives just a block from the accident. "It was straight screeching — it sounded like the brakes were on. And the table that I was near was kind of shaking; it was unreal."
CSX spokesman Bob Sullivan said that the train was traveling from Grafton, W.Va., to Baltimore. Cranes have been brought in to remove train cars from the vehicles in the county-owned lot as the search continues for other victims.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.
Update 11:24 a.m.: The two young women killed by the train derailment in Ellicott City, Md. overnight have been identified as Elizabeth Conway Nass and Rose Louese Mayr. They were 19.
Nass attended James Madison University in Virginia, and Mayr was a student at the University of Delaware, according to the Associated Press. Police did not immediately say what the girls were doing on the tracks, but the girls were tweeting that they were drinking near the train tracks earlier last night, the Washington Post reports.
Mayr tweeted a photo of the two women's legs dangling off the bridge where the train derailed. Investigators believe the two may have been crushed by falling coal when the accident occurred, the Post reports.
Original story: A CSX freight train hauling coal derailed overnight in downtown Ellicott City, Md. At least two people were killed, but the identity of those victims has not been confirmed.
Twenty-one cars on the 80-car train came off the tracks, with at least a dozen of them derailing over a bridge in the historic section of the city. Those cars crashed down and crushed vehicles on Main Street and in an adjacent parking lot.
Two teenaged girls were reported to have been on the tracks prior to the crash, but it is not clear if they were the two people killed. Police are also still investigating whether or not the women had anything to do with the accident.
"There are two people confirmed deceased, but we don't yet know who they are," Howard County Police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn said as she stood at the scene early this morning. "We have received information from family and friends that there were two teenage girls who may have been in the area just prior to the crash. We're looking into the possibility that these could be those girls, but that is very much unconfirmed until we get their bodies extracted."
Crews have been going through the crushed vehicles since the incident last night, removing coal and trying to see if there is anyone else injured or dead. Howard County Executive Ken Ulman also expressed grief for the victims as he stood near the scene of the accident today. The city now has a big task ahead of it, he added.
"The biggest challenge is that as 21 of those cars came off the tracks, many of them fell off of the bridge that goes over Main Street Ellicott City," he said. "Those would be where you would park to go to bars and restaurants on Main Street, so at midnight on a Monday night, there were a lot of people out and about.
"We hope and pray there are no more [victims]," Ulman added.
The investigation and ensuing cleanup in Ellicott City is expected to take weeks, although Ulman is hoping they can at least get Main Street reopened "sooner rather than later," he said.
"We do ask that everyone be patient with us," he said. "If you commute using Old Frederick Road between Ellicott City and Catonsville, you need to find another way to go this morning."