Charges and Lawsuit Emerge from Truck/Train Collision

by Jana Ritter - Published: 6/28/2013

An Alban truck driver whose collision with a train set off a fiery explosion and became headline news on May 28 has been found at fault after thorough investigation. He would have been able to see for more than half a mile up and down the rail line if he had stopped before crossing the tracks near his business in Rosedale, the police concluded.

Truck collision

Alban told police he did not hear the train's warning horn, but the report says the train engineer's video recorded the horn sounding when the truck appeared and continued through impact. He had said he slowed his truck, which he was operating at 10 mph as he approached the crossing shortly after 2 p.m., according to the report issued by Baltimore County police on Friday. Police also interviewed Alban on June 19 at his home, where he then revealed he was talking on his Bluetooth phone connector while heading to the crossing. Alban said as he was crossing the tracks, he heard the train's horn and looked up just as he was hit.

The report said Alban fell through the shattered rear window of the truck, indicating he was not wearing a seat belt. He was hospitalized for days after the accident. Not only did the wreck critically injure the truck driver, it caused a chemical explosion that rattled windows miles away and sent a plume of black and gray smoke high into the air. The explosion was felt around the region and left several nearby buildings severely damaged and others with broken windows. Further investigation also found that one other person was seriously injured and local hospitals treated a few related injuries, including a person hit by a falling ceiling fan, two men who suffered cuts and bruises when the building they were in partially collapsed and a female first responder whose ears were damaged.

County police determined that the crash involving the Alban trash truck and CSX train was caused by "driver error" and cited John Jacob Alban Jr. for offenses including negligent driving, which carries a $280 fine. Police also issued Alban five citations related to failing to comply with railroad signals and one citation for failing to wear his seat belt. Police spokeswoman Elise Armacost said that the citations resulted from "a very detailed investigation" and that "these were the seven violations the officers found appropriate." Police said drugs and alcohol were not factors in the crash.

The traffic citations are the "most appropriate charges for the facts that we know at this time," Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott D. Shellenberger said. "Just short of us uncovering something we don't know, those are the charges that we will pursue."

But Alban and his company, Alban Waste LLC, have also been named in a civil suit brought by CSX in U.S. District Court in Baltimore this month. CSX alleges that Alban did not take proper care as he crossed the tracks, causing the train carrying chemicals for use in manufacturing to derail.