published Sunday, December 1st, 2013

Officials investigate New Mexico train derailment that killed 3 railroad workers

This Nov. 30, 2013 photo provided by the New Mexico State Police shows a train derailment in Grant County in southern N.M. Authorities say three train operators were killed when this freight train derailed and plunged down a ravine.
This Nov. 30, 2013 photo provided by the New Mexico State Police shows a train derailment in Grant County in southern N.M. Authorities say three train operators were killed when this freight train derailed and plunged down a ravine.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Authorities are investigating the cause of a freight train derailment in southern New Mexico that killed three railroad employees when the train's locomotive plunged 40 feet down a ravine.

Police on Sunday identified the three as 38-year-old Donald White, 60-year-old Steven Corse and 50-year-old Ann Thompson. White lived in Silver City, N.M., and Corse and Thompson lived in the northern Arizona community of Paulden.

No other people were on the train.

State Police spokesman Emmanuel T. Gutierrez said it's unknown what caused Saturday afternoon's derailment near the community of Bayard, about 75 miles northwest of Las Cruces. It's unclear what preceded the derailment.

The eight rail cars being pulled by the locomotive weren't forced into the ravine. Instead, they remained either on or near the tracks. At least half of the eight train cars had tilted on their sides, but none of the iron ore being carried by the train had spilled out.

Photos taken by investigators show the locomotive on its side in the ravine.

The train was operated by Southwest Railroad Inc.

Federal Railroad Administration spokesman Kevin Thompson said the agency is investigating and that it could take several weeks to determine a cause for the derailment.

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