Investigation shows man run over by UP tanker was intoxicated
WORTHINGTON - According to reports from the investigation into a November train/pedestrian accident, the victim was intoxicated and trying to crawl under a Union Pacific (UP) tanker car to cross the tracks when he was run over.
A report released this week by the Worthington Police Department states Changkouth Malek Chuol, 37, of Worthington, had a blood alcohol concentration level of .278 and drugs in his system when he was tested at the hospital Nov. 2. The incident occurred just north of the 12th Street railroad crossing at approximately 7:30 a.m.
A 911 call for medical assistance was made by the engineer of the train, who was alerted by another UP employee that there was someone lying on the tracks. Chuol was lying by the tracks approximately 15 feet from a "no trespassing" sign.
A detective spoke to several UP employees - the crew foreman, brakeman and engineer, and learned they had been "kicking cars," a process where the crew moves cars from one location to another at low speeds. The foreman said they had begun moving the cars shortly before 7 a.m. from the south side of the 12th Street crossing to the north side, with the engine pushing from the south side of the intersection. When he saw a person lying near the tracks south of where he was working, he radioed the engineer to stop and immediately went to the victim to offer assistance. All three men said the intersection had been occupied by rail cars for three to five minutes.
The three UP employees and several witnesses said the arms were down and signal lights activated throughout the process.
A witness said he saw Chuol start to crawl under the tanker north of the intersection while the train was stopped, but then it began to move. It looked as though the man's clothing had gotten caught on the car, the witness told authorities.
Another witness told the detective the intersection was blocked by the train when he was on his way to work, so he used the underpass on Lake Street. As he drove toward his place of employment, he saw a man "staggering" on the roadway. When he saw all the activity at the tracks a short time later, he went over and identified the victim as the same man he had seen on the roadway.
According to the reports, an officer dispatched to the hospital to speak to Chuol's family was told by Chuol's wife that she thought someone had put her husband under the train. When told that several eyewitnesses had said he was walking alone prior to the incident, the woman said she understood. She told the officer she had not seen her husband since the previous day.
Although medical reports were requested by law enforcement, they are not available to the public due to privacy laws. One source told the Daily Globe Chuol had his right arm amputated just below the shoulder, and his right foot amputated below the knee.
The report states the detective spoke with Chuol Nov. 10. Chuol had just returned from therapy, the report states, and was alert and coherent. He told the detective the injury occurred Sunday night, and seemed confused about the timing. The detective told him later that the incident took place Monday morning.
Chuol said he left the Queen of Sheba restaurant and Thompson Apartment to walk home along First Street and the 12th Street intersection. He thought he had left the restaurant around 6:30 a.m. and stopped to talk to some friends. He sais he had been drinking the night before and had taken one hit from a marijuana joint.
When asked if he was drunk when he was walking, he replied he was not. When told about his blood alcohol content and the description of his staggering, Chuol said he did not stagger.
He said no lights or audible alarms were apparent at the crossing and that the cross arms were not down. He allegedly told the detective there were others crossing at the intersection as well. He reported he was walking alone across the tracks when he saw something to his left.He said before he could react he was hit by a train from the north. Chuol told the detective he tried to avoid the train but his right foot got caught in the tracks.
The detective went back to the scene and measured the distance from the side of the tracks to where Chuol was discovered and discovered it was 33 feet away from the tracks.
A video from the south side of the depot was viewed, but the incident happened too far away for authorities to see anything regarding the accident.