Sheriff's Officials Say Someone Tried To Derail Train - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Sheriff's Officials Say Someone Tried To Derail Train

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CLINTON -

The Missoula County Sheriff's Office said someone tried to derail a Montana Rail Link train, west of Clinton, an act they say can possibly be a protest to coal imports. Officials said whatever the reason, this was a dangerous act that could have led to disaster and injury.

Just a half hour after a westbound train traveled the same tracks, an empty coal train traveling east bound last night, west of Clinton, hit what detectives said was a six foot long piece of culvert filled with rocks.

"The trains running a bout 50 miles-per-hour, can't stop in that short of distance and hits the culvert full of rocks," said Lt.. Scott Newell with the Missoula County Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff's said no one was hurt, but rocks were kicked up and cracked the windshield of the train, and the bottom of the train dug into the railroad ties, leaving them damaged, but Newell said far worst could have happened.

"Derailment is the main issue there. There you're talking thousands and thousands of dollars of damage, and possible injury, and whatever it may be carrying could spill. People could get hurt," Newell said.

Detectives are currently investigating the case, with no doubt that someone had the intention of damaging the train.

"Someone purposely set it there, because when the west bound train went through a half hour before, it wasn't there, and when the eastbound train came through, it was there," Newell said.

Detectives also found a hole dug into a hillside near the tracks, with sticks and a tarp covering it, like someone was hiding in it.

"We don't know if someone was hiding in that hole, so they could watch if the train hit the thing, or if it's just someone's old fort," Newell said.

With recent talks of increasing coal exports through the state, Newell said it's possible the train was targeted for carrying coal, but they still are investigating.

He said, "We don't know if it's just a random act of stupidity, or someone was targeting the coal train,"

If you have seen anything suspicious near the railroad property, sheriff's ask you to call the Missoula County Sheriff's Office at 258-4810 or Crimestoppers at 721-4444.

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