Backhoe topples, crushes pickup truck

Posted: Sunday, November 11, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- A 115,000-pound Caterpillar hydraulic excavator operated by the Alaska Railroad rolled over at the Fairbanks rail yard Thursday and flattened a 5,000-pound pickup truck.

Only the truck's slightly bent and largely unscratched passenger door, which poked out of the crook of the backhoe's arm, was recognizable.

No one was injured in the accident that occurred when Alaska Railroad workers were attempting to load the excavator onto a flatcar.

Alaska Railroad officials are investigating.

''We're all pretty shook up,'' said Mike Olson, the railroad's Fairbanks terminal supervisor, as he prepared to survey the wreckage.

A driver was attempting to center the excavator onto the flatcar when it fell, Olson said. It appears that one of the tracks on the excavator was loose and that when the driver tried to compensate, the back end of the Caterpillar tipped, he said.

''He rode it all the way down,'' Olson said. The backhoe landed on its side atop an unoccupied 1994 burgundy Ford half-ton truck parked next to the flatcar. The truck was owned by the railroad, Olson said.

The excavator's cab was damaged in the fall, he said.

The piece of heavy equipment was bound for Seattle, said Steve Wiese of Alaska Cargo Transport. The company had arranged for its delivery to the railroad freight terminal for transport, he said.

The machine is owned by Cat Financial, the financial branch of Caterpillar. It was being transported to Washington to be sold at auction.

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