Truck driver said he slowed, looked before Rosedale train crash

The trash truck driver who police said caused the train derailment in Rosedale that triggered a fire and explosion said he slowed and looked as he approached the tracks but never saw or heard the CSX locomotive bearing down on him.

John Alban Jr. told a Baltimore County police investigator that he was talking via Bluetooth on his cell phone on his way to a recycling facility on May 28, when he made the turn north from his business toward Lake Drive.

"He did not hear the train warning horn," said the police report dated June 24. "As he made the turn [he] looked to the right and did not see anything. As he was crossing the tracks, he heard the train horn and looked up at the same time as the train hit him."

Videos from surveillance cameras on nearby buildings showed that Alban did not stop at the crossing before his truck collided with the train. The train's whistle blew three times, and was sounding as the train hit the truck, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, the lead investigator of the crash.

NTSB investigators interviewed Alban last week, agency spokesman Eric Weiss confirmed.

After the collision, Alban told police he "was bounced around the cab of the truck and his right shoulder was immediately injured." He said when the truck came to rest, he "had a hold of something with my left hand and lowered myself to the ground."

But two witnesses, Billy Tipton and Robert Vogel, both employees of nearby Eastern Truck and Trailer, said when they arrived, Alban was still half in the truck, his body protruding from the shattered rear window. Alban told both witnesses he neither saw nor heard the train, the report said.

Alban could not be reached for comment.

The derailment sparked a fire in three cars, two loaded with an acid used to produce polyester and plastic bottles and one with residue of an acid used to produce fluoride. The heat from the fire caused a car loaded with sodium chlorate to explode within minutes. The car was obliterated and few pieces of it were found, police said.

The multi-alarm fire and explosion injured four people, including Alban, who was hospitalized in serious condition, and badly damaged several nearby buildings.

Earlier this week, police cited Alban Jr., 50, of the 1400 block of Sussex Road in Essex, with seven violations, including negligent driving, failure to stop at railroad crossing and failing to wear his seat belt.

CSX filed a $225,000 civil suit last month against Alban and his company, Alban Waste LLC, in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, alleging Alban was negligent as he crossed the tracks.

candy.thomson@baltsun.com