BARTOW, Fla. - Railroad crews spent Friday cleaning up mangled rail cars and piles of phosphate after a train derailed in Bartow.
CSX reports 12 of the 61 cars derailed, including nine cars that overturned. The two men on board were not injured.
"He was probably going about 15 miles per hour," said Frank Burgess, who happened to be outside and saw the derailment. "I heard him, he came across the crossing here, and released the air on his brakes, and the cars started to slide, and then I heard boom, boom, boom."
Most of the cars that derailed carried unprocessed phosphate that was headed to Mosaic's fertilizer plant in Bartow.
"It's just rock, it's very benign," said Gary Albarelli with the Florida Industrial and Phosphate Research Institute in Bartow.
"There's nothing hazardous about it," he said.
CSX investigators say they will focus on three main things to figure out a cause, including the condition of the cars, the condition of the track, and an analysis of the black box-type device that's on every train.
According to the Federal Railroad Administration, derailments in Florida have gone down in the last ten years, but started to trickle back up the last couple.
In 2012, 18 trains derailed in Florida, out of 107 nationwide.
"I knew he derailed, or he hit something and was trying to stop," Burgess said.
Although he heard the air brakes right before the accident, CSX said we shouldn't read too much into it.
A company spokesman said the brakes often automatically deploy when a malfunction is detected on the track.
If they did not deploy, it could have been even worse.
Crown Avenue in Bartow is expected to remain closed for the next day or two while the cleanup continues.