Farmer says train derailment happened in his backyard


Norfolk Southern spent Monday working to fix the railroad tracks where a train derailed Sunday night, around 8:00 p.m.  It happened in Bartow, Georgia.  Fears that chlorine had spilled forced evacuations for people within a 7 mile radius.  Evacuees were allowed back into their homes Monday morning, at 7:00 a.m.  

It only took about 12 hours for Norfolk Southern to respond and fix the train derailment.  We spoke with one man who told us it all went down in his backyard.  

“I said if it’s bad, wake me up.  Well, about a half an hour later he gave me a call and said y’all better get out of there,” Andrew Peachey told us of that night. 

When train cars jumped the track in Andrew Peachey’s backyard Sunday night, he and his family were at church.  But it didn’t take long to realize it was time to evacuate.  

“It smelled a little bit like chlorine,” he recalled.  “I don’t know exactly.  It smelled like you were at the pool.”

Peachey was able to capture a few photos of the train derailment from his vantage point.  

But it’s actually not visible to drivers on Friendship Church Road in Bartow.  Norfolk Southern spent the day building a road through the farm to get to the train tracks.  A truck driver told NewsChannel 6 his towing company was contracted to haul the equipment needed to get the job done.  While Peachey said he smelled chlorine, EMA Director Jim Anderson told us the chemicals that spilled were hydrochloric acid and hydrogen peroxide.

“I got cows to milk.  I’m a dairy farmer,” he explained. 

As the owner of Peachey’s and Cream Dairy Farm, the chemical spill’s potential threat to the cows concerned Peachey.  But he said he feels a whole lot better knowing they are all ok.  He’s working with Norfolk Southern while they get the train tracks fixed.  And he’s thankful the situation didn’t turn out worse. 

“Blessed,” he smiled. “Very blessed.  Blessed by the best.”

There were no injuries during the train derailment.  And Bartow residents didn’t have to stay evacuated for more than 11 or 12 hours. 

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office says that dozens of first responders assisted with evacuations. Four of their Deputies were taken to the Jefferson Hospital ER. Two of those officers have since been taken to the Joseph M Still Burn unit for treatment.

Photojournalist: Gary Hipps

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