Railroad blames truck driver for $60K in damaged rail lines in Pima

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Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: AZER says a semi-truck did $60K in damage to its tracks. The semi-truck driver says the tracks damaged his trailer.

Semi-truck driver says railroad tracks damaged his trailer

By Jon Johnson

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PIMA – A semi-truck driver using the Glenbar Gin as a turnaround area may be stuck with a hefty repair bill after severely damaging 160 feet of railroad tracks.

Arizona Eastern Railway (AZER) informed law enforcement that between train downtime and the cost to replace the tracks, the repair estimate would be $60,000. 

AZER’s railway runs from Miami, Arizona to Morenci and passes through Pima, Thatcher, Safford, and Bowie before heading into New Mexico through Lordsburg and then northwest back into Arizona up to Clifton/Morenci.

The incident occurred at about 12:35 p.m. on Saturday, March 16. Glenbar Gin is located in western Pima at 1893 U.S. Highway 70. 

According to Glenbar Gin employees’ statements to the Sheriff’s Office, a semi-truck with a white cab hauling a large yellow forklift pulled into the gin and somehow got caught on the railroad tracks. The employees said the driver, identified as Alexsandr Labunsky, of Oregon, said he had turned into the gin to turn around and when he went over the railroad tracks something was sticking up and caught his tire. Labunsky was visiting a friend who lives just west of the gin and he was heading in the opposite direction at the time of the crash. 

Afterward, both men called the phone number for AZER and informed them of the situation. At that time, a train was headed eastbound toward the damaged tracks from the Fort Thomas area. 

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: AZER says they had to replace 160 feet of the railway here after the semi-truck’s collision.

Both men then left the area, returned to the Graham County man’s home, and left the semi-truck parked on the property. At that time, they noticed the train headed eastbound and went to intercept it, however, the conductor had already been informed and was stopping the train. The men then went to Safford to repair the semi’s tires.

While that was occurring, deputies and railroad employees were inspecting the tracks at the scene. The gin employees recognized the Graham County man, and the deputy located the semi-truck at his house. He then contacted the resident and waited for the men to return to the house.

Upon their arrival, Labunsky reportedly told the deputy that as soon as his tire crossed the railroad track the track popped up and slammed against the trailer and a tire. Since he felt he couldn’t wait on the tracks, he finished pulling in over them. 

Labunsky said he didn’t contact law enforcement after the collision because he had called the railroad and somebody from AZER had already called the resident to come speak with them. When the deputy requested Labunsky’s insurance information, he requested the railroad provide the same and felt that it needed to pay for the damage to his trailer. 

The deputy provided Labunsky’s insurance to AZER and since the railroad is self-insured, the deputy received a phone number for Labunsky to call for an insurance claim against AZER. The deputy provided the insurance information to Labunsky, as well as a contact number for the railroad employee running point on the incident. 

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News Director , gilaherald.com
Local News Archives – The Gila Herald , 2024-03-26 23:42:58
Categories: Local News,AZER,GCSO,Graham County,Pima,Railroad
Tags: AZER,GCSO,Graham County,Pima,Railroad

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