the radio in his hand, was calling out the speeds and was attempting to call somebody, and that he remembers "calling out the speed when we hit ninety." The helper brakeman stated that he remained in his seat. The transcript of the dispatcher's radio log indicates that at 7:37:09 the following message was transmitted: "Mayday! Mayday! 7551, West Colton-AGYM [assistant general yard master], we're doing 90 miles per hour' nine zero, out of control, won't be able to stop till we hit Colton." The head-end engineer stated that after the conductor called West Colton, "there was nothing left to do." He further stated that he and the conductor remained in their seats and that he believed the speed of the train reached 100 mph. He stated, "The speedometer only went up to 80, but it was way past that….It was as far as it could go."
As Extra 7551 East approached MP 486.6 and entered a 4-degree right-hand curve, the entire train derailed to the outside of the curve; many of the cars crashed into a neighborhood of houses adjacent to the railroad right-of-way (figures 3 and 4).
The dispatcher's radio log indicated that a call from Extra 7551 East stating that the whole train was on the ground was received at 7:37:55. The helper engineer testified that he made the radio transmission after the derailment and that because he had received no communication from the head end, he instructed the helper brakeman to go to the front of the train.
Shortly after 7:30 a.m., two San Bernardino police detectives, who were traveling westbound on Highland Avenue approaching California Street, observed what they stated appeared to be a large flash of light and a large cloud of dust come from the area af Highland Avenue and west of Macy Street. They continued westbound on Highland Avenue, and as they drove past Macy Street, they observed that an SP train had derailed and had crashed into several houses on Duffy Street. One of the detectives used his police radio to advise his dispatcher of the situation and to request emergency personnel. They parked their vehicle on the north side of Highland Avenue and ran up the railroad levee to evaluate the damage. Several other people had also stopped their vehicles and ran up the levee.
A Southern California Gas Company employee stated that he and another gas company employee were about 100 yards west of Highland Avenue when they observed the train derail at a high rate of speed. He further stated that he immediately ran to the site of the derailment and, along with other unidentified people, helped the engineer who was attempting to pull himself out of the lead locomotive unit. According to the gas company employee, the engineer began looking for his "partner" (who was later identified as the conductor) whom he found fatally injured in the same locomotive unit. After they helped to lay the engineer next to a fence in the rear yard of 2304 Duffy Street to await the arrival of emergency personnel, the gas company employees began shoveling dirt around one of the locomotives to prevent the spilled diesel fuel from spreading. They then began shutting
- At this location, the railroad tracks are constructed atop a 20- to 21-foot high embankment (levee).