Reporter: Rachel Schaerr | Videographer: Ira Quillen
Pamplin, VA - Norfolk Southern is trying to figure out what caused empty train cars to derail in Pamplin Wednesday afternoon.
Crews have replaced the damaged track with a temporary one and hope to re-open the Route 628 railroad crossing by 7 p.m. Thursday.
But there may have been signs of trouble on the tracks before. Another train derailed in the same general area in December of 2009. There's still no word on what caused Wednesday's derailment, and Norfolk Southern says it could be months before we know.
While Norfolk Southern Crews repair the damage, investigators try to answer the why.
One worker here at the Exxon right across the street from the train tracks actually saw it all happen. He says he heard a popping noise, looked over and saw train cars flying in the air. Seven empty train cars headed westbound were knocked off course.
Tom Puckett arrived just minutes after it happened.
"The only thing I could see were the four or five cars laying to the left of the rail going westbound. There was shredded cross ties and a broken rail," Puckett said.
Larry Smith was working on a car when he heard it, too.
"It was just a loud noise is all I can tell you," Smith said.
On December 6, 2009 another Norfolk Southern train carrying hazardous material derailed in the same area.
Just like the latest incident there were no injuries, but investigators determined defective or missing cross ties were to blame.
"The only serious issues that we had around here were with the weather or the railroad having a problem. That's always something you have to think about," said Mayor Bob Mitchell.
Mitchell says Norfolk Southern is an important ally for his tiny town. He's confident it will find out exactly why the latest train was knocked off course.
"It's nice to be noticed but I'd rather be noticed for our attributes," Mitchell added.