Report Points to Trouble Connecting Rail Cars Before Worker Death in New Hampshire

June 17, 2021

Five attempts were made to connect two rail cars during a switching operation before a Pan Am Railways conductor was pinned between them and died, according to a preliminary report issued Tuesday by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Police in Newington, New Hampshire, received a call on May 19 about the worker, identified as Dale Jenkins, 61, of Seabrook, Police Chief Michael Bilodeau had said. Jenkins was conscious and taken to Portsmouth Regional Hospital, where he later died.

The report said the train was made up of two locomotives and two loaded railcars. The train crew consisted of Jenkins, the conductor, with 42 years of experience, and an engineer with 34 years of experience. They had to pick up three empty railcars and set out two loaded railcars at the 200-foot-long industrial track for SubCom, an undersea data transport company that makes undersea fiber optic cable at a manufacturing facility in Newington.

“Preliminary information indicates that two of the three railcars to be picked up were not properly coupling together after five previous attempts to couple them,” the report said. “The conductor was pinched between the two coupling mechanisms during the sixth attempt to couple the railcars.”

The investigation is ongoing.

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