Investigation of triple fatality crash,
explosion near Medford is ongoing
September 2, 2008
Source: Enid News & Eagle website
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ENID, Okla. ó The investigation into a triple-fatality crash involving a
fully loaded propane truck and Union Pacific train that left three men
dead still is ongoing by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
The driver of a propane truck involved in Fridayís collision died Sunday
evening in a Wichita, Kan., hospital.
Dennis Wayne Etherton, 52, was driving a propane truck which was struck
by the train Friday near Medford in Grant County, according to Oklahoma
Highway Patrol reports. The impact resulted in an explosion which killed
the trainís conductor, Larry B. Williams of Oklahoma City, and the
engineer, Richard D. Pendarvis of Anadarko. Etherton was ejected an
unknown distance from the wreck and was burned over 50 percent of his
He was taken by Eagle Med to St. Francis Hospital in Wichita and
admitted in critical condition.
The accident occurred about 9:20 a.m. on the railroad tracks adjacent to
U.S. 81, three miles south of Medford. Etherton had just filled his
tanker at the Conoco-Phillips LP facility underground storage site south
of Medford before the accident. The truck reportedly was on the train
tracks when the 76-car locomotive struck it.
Donna Kush, Union Pacific spokeswoman, said the two-person crew sounded
the horn and began trying to stop the train 140 feet before impact while
going about 37 mph.
U.S. 81 was blocked to northbound and southbound traffic from Medford to
Pond Creek after the accident. It also knocked out electricity to much
of Medford. Power was restored later Friday. The area was not evacuated,
but the OHP cordoned off an area one mile around the crash site.
The liquid propane facility, located about 100 yards from the site of
the wreck, received some damage, mostly from flying debris.
All that was left of the lead locomotive was a burned-out shell. The
explosion blackened the first three cars and left a large crater in the
ground at the site where it hit the propane truck.
The train was traveling from Wichita to Fort Worth, Texas, with a load
of flour, wheat, possible metals and some flammable substances. None of
the flammable substances leaked from the train cars, according to a