Graniteville train accident remembered

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On January 6, 2005, a chemical-laden northbound Norfolk Southern Corp. freight train collided with a parked locomotive and two cars in Graniteville. The wreckage released a toxic chlorine cloud, awakened panicked residents and sent mill workers scrambling to rooftops to avoid the itchy, burning greenish-yellow gas. After the chlorine cloud settled, nine people had been killed, about 250 injured and 5,400 residents evacuated in the nation's deadliest train wreck involving hazardous material in nearly three decades. (File photo)
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On January 6, 2005, a chemical-laden northbound Norfolk Southern Corp. freight train collided with a parked locomotive and two cars in Graniteville. The wreckage released a toxic chlorine cloud, awakened panicked residents and sent mill workers scrambling to rooftops to avoid the itchy, burning greenish-yellow gas. After the chlorine cloud settled, nine people had been killed, about 250 injured and 5,400 residents evacuated in the nation's deadliest train wreck involving hazardous material in nearly three decades. (File photo)
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On January 6, 2005, a chemical-laden northbound Norfolk Southern Corp. freight train collided with a parked locomotive and two cars in Graniteville. The wreckage released a toxic chlorine cloud, awakened panicked residents and sent mill workers scrambling to rooftops to avoid the itchy, burning greenish-yellow gas. After the chlorine cloud settled, nine people had been killed, about 250 injured and 5,400 residents evacuated in the nation's deadliest train wreck involving hazardous material in nearly three decades. (File photo)
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On January 6, 2005, a chemical-laden northbound Norfolk Southern Corp. freight train collided with a parked locomotive and two cars in Graniteville. The wreckage released a toxic chlorine cloud, awakened panicked residents and sent mill workers scrambling to rooftops to avoid the itchy, burning greenish-yellow gas. After the chlorine cloud settled, nine people had been killed, about 250 injured and 5,400 residents evacuated in the nation's deadliest train wreck involving hazardous material in nearly three decades. (File photo)
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On January 6, 2005, a chemical-laden northbound Norfolk Southern Corp. freight train collided with a parked locomotive and two cars in Graniteville. The wreckage released a toxic chlorine cloud, awakened panicked residents and sent mill workers scrambling to rooftops to avoid the itchy, burning greenish-yellow gas. After the chlorine cloud settled, nine people had been killed, about 250 injured and 5,400 residents evacuated in the nation's deadliest train wreck involving hazardous material in nearly three decades. (File photo)
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On January 6, 2005, a chemical-laden northbound Norfolk Southern Corp. freight train collided with a parked locomotive and two cars in Graniteville. The wreckage released a toxic chlorine cloud, awakened panicked residents and sent mill workers scrambling to rooftops to avoid the itchy, burning greenish-yellow gas. After the chlorine cloud settled, nine people had been killed, about 250 injured and 5,400 residents evacuated in the nation's deadliest train wreck involving hazardous material in nearly three decades. (File photo)
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On January 6, 2005, a chemical-laden northbound Norfolk Southern Corp. freight train collided with a parked locomotive and two cars in Graniteville. The wreckage released a toxic chlorine cloud, awakened panicked residents and sent mill workers scrambling to rooftops to avoid the itchy, burning greenish-yellow gas. After the chlorine cloud settled, nine people had been killed, about 250 injured and 5,400 residents evacuated in the nation's deadliest train wreck involving hazardous material in nearly three decades. (File photo)
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On January 6, 2005, a chemical-laden northbound Norfolk Southern Corp. freight train collided with a parked locomotive and two cars in Graniteville. The wreckage released a toxic chlorine cloud, awakened panicked residents and sent mill workers scrambling to rooftops to avoid the itchy, burning greenish-yellow gas. After the chlorine cloud settled, nine people had been killed, about 250 injured and 5,400 residents evacuated in the nation's deadliest train wreck involving hazardous material in nearly three decades. (File photo)
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On January 6, 2005, a chemical-laden northbound Norfolk Southern Corp. freight train collided with a parked locomotive and two cars in Graniteville. The wreckage released a toxic chlorine cloud, awakened panicked residents and sent mill workers scrambling to rooftops to avoid the itchy, burning greenish-yellow gas. After the chlorine cloud settled, nine people had been killed, about 250 injured and 5,400 residents evacuated in the nation's deadliest train wreck involving hazardous material in nearly three decades. (File photo)
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On January 6, 2005, a chemical-laden northbound Norfolk Southern Corp. freight train collided with a parked locomotive and two cars in Graniteville. The wreckage released a toxic chlorine cloud, awakened panicked residents and sent mill workers scrambling to rooftops to avoid the itchy, burning greenish-yellow gas. After the chlorine cloud settled, nine people had been killed, about 250 injured and 5,400 residents evacuated in the nation's deadliest train wreck involving hazardous material in nearly three decades. (File photo)
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On January 6, 2005, a chemical-laden northbound Norfolk Southern Corp. freight train collided with a parked locomotive and two cars in Graniteville. The wreckage released a toxic chlorine cloud, awakened panicked residents and sent mill workers scrambling to rooftops to avoid the itchy, burning greenish-yellow gas. After the chlorine cloud settled, nine people had been killed, about 250 injured and 5,400 residents evacuated in the nation's deadliest train wreck involving hazardous material in nearly three decades. (File photo)
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On January 6, 2005, a chemical-laden northbound Norfolk Southern Corp. freight train collided with a parked locomotive and two cars in Graniteville. The wreckage released a toxic chlorine cloud, awakened panicked residents and sent mill workers scrambling to rooftops to avoid the itchy, burning greenish-yellow gas. After the chlorine cloud settled, nine people had been killed, about 250 injured and 5,400 residents evacuated in the nation's deadliest train wreck involving hazardous material in nearly three decades. (File photo)
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A contract worker for Norfolk Southern wears a protective suit at the scene of a train collison Thursday, Jan. 6, 2005. (File/Environmental Protection Agency)
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Contract workers for Norfolk Southern tie down one of the damaged cars onto another railroad car for removal. (File photo)
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A contract worker for Norfolk Southern looks over the chlorine-carrying tanker that ruptured. (File photo)
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South Carolina Highway patrolmen keep Tolley line Rd. going into Graniteville as officials keep the area near the train accident closed. (File photo)
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An EMS worker assists Graniteville residents arriving at the decontamination area at USC Aiken. (File photo)
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Graniteville residents wait at USC Aiken to be decontaminated. (File photo)
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Lester Hall, 80, wearing a decontamination suit, waits for word on when he can return to his home in Graniteville. Mr. Hall lives within eyesight of the train accident. (File photo)
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Red Cross volunteer Beverly Bonnet, left, hands out toiletries to evacuated Graniteville residents Robert Wise and Alyson Howell at a makeshift shelter in Midland Valley High School's gymnasium. (File photo)
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Lynn Ghant, with the Aiken County Sheriff's Office, marks the porch of a Howlandville Road home in Warrenville, as police evacuated the area. A 6 p.m. curfew was instated following the train accident. (File/Staff)
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Richard DeMedicis prepares to evacuate his family, Thursday Jan. 6, 2005. (File/Staff)
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Senior Officer Andy Deering, with the South Carolina Transport Police stops traffic from going onto Main Street off of Hwy. 421 in Warrenville, which leads into Graniteville to where the train accident happened, Thursday Jan. 6, 2005. (File/Staff)
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Thom Berry, spokesman foe DEHC, gives an update to media as to what chemicals were involved in the early morning accident in Graniteville. (File photo)
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Lt. Brian Brazier, with the Aiken Public Safety Fire Department, left, and Capt. Wendall Hall, with Aiken Public Safety, look over a map to decide where rescue workers should go in Graniteville to look for victims. (File photo)
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Dead fish lie in a feeder creek off Langley Pond Thursday, Jan. 6, 2005, near the site of the deadly train crash in Graniteville. (File/Environmental Protection Agency)
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Fred "Rusty" Rushton III was found dead on a loading dock of Stevens Steam plant.

AGE: 41

HOMETOWN: Warrenville

OCCUPATION: Supervisor

LENGTH OF EMPLOYMENT AT AVONDALE MILLS: 12 years

FAMILY: He is survived by his father, Fred J. Rushton Jr., of Warrenville; sons, Christopher D. Rushton, Dustin W. Rushton and Shane Kelly; daughters, Kristin Kelly and Caroline Kelly; a sister, Freda Koster and her husband, Scott Koster, of Aiken; his life partner, Kimberley Kelly, of Warrenville; motorcycle riding partner Freddie Leopard; and his beloved pets, Sandy, Max and Sasha.

ABOUT MR. RUSHTON: He was a native and lifelong resident of Aiken County. He was a 1982 graduate of Midland Valley High School. HOW WILL MR. RUSHTON BE REMEMBERED? "He will be remembered for his love of life, Jimmy Buffet music and riding motorcycles," Ms. Kelly said.
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Toll of the tragedy: Charles Shealey
Charles Shealey was found dead in a wooded area near the Woodhead plant.

AGE: 43

HOMETOWN: Graniteville

OCCUPATION: Supervisor

LENGTH OF EMPLOYMENT AT AVONDALE MILLS: 18 years

FAMILY: He is survived by his wife, Sherry Randall Shealey, of Graniteville; sons, Chad Shealey, Travis Shealey and Brent Shealey, all of Graniteville; brothers, Gerald Shealey, of Gloverville, S.C., and Drake Bush, of Gilbert, S.C.; sister, Teresa Brooks, of Gloverville; and stepsister, Sharon Muniz.

ABOUT MR. SHEALEY: He was a lifelong resident of Aiken County and was a graduate of Leavelle McCampbell High School. He was a member of the National Guard's 122nd Engineering Battalion in Graniteville, S.C., and was also a member of the New Ellenton Riding Club.

HOW WILL MR. SHEALEY BE REMEMBERED? As a "wonderful husband and father and an animal lover, especially of horses," said his wife, Sherry Randall Shealey.
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Toll of the tragedy: Willie Lee Tyler
Willie Lee Tyler was found dead about 25 feet inside the entrance to the mill

AGE: 57

HOMETOWN: Aiken

OCCUPATION: Paint mixer in the textile unit

LENGTH OF EMPLOYMENT AT AVONDALE MILLS: 16 years

FAMILY: Wife of 36 years, Henrietta Tyler; two daughters, Vicky Tyler, of Aiken, and Coretta (Patsy) Bynem, of Wagener, S.C.; one godson, Antonio Corley, of Aiken; four sisters, Mae Tyler, Linda Tyler, Florine Danely and Catherine Christen; two brothers, Boyd Tyler and Edmond Tyler, all of Aiken.

ABOUT MR. TYLER: He loved his church and was a deacon at Sardis Baptist Church, Salley, S.C. He loved to sing. Everyone knew him for his love of gospel singing, including his work with The Fantastic Melodairs, and the most recent group he formed, Deacon Willie Tyler and the Gospel Jewels.

HOW WILL MR. TYLER BE REMEMBERED? "He really enjoyed singing a gospel song he composed called the Same Train, and people always called him 'The Same Train Man,'" his sister-in-law Angela Gleaton said.
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Toll of the tragedy: Joseph Stone
Joseph Stone was found dead in semi-truck near Woodhead plant.

AGE: 22

HOMETOWN: Sherbrooke, Quebec

OCCUPATION: Truck driver

FAMILY: Father, Tracey Stone, of Sherbrooke; girlfriend Kristen Bobbitt, of Sherbrooke.

ABOUT MR. STONE: Mr. Stone became a truck driver just a few months before his death. He was a welder, but he had to quit because the fumes and smoke bothered his asthma. He was working for JW Express, driving about 3,100 miles a week to deliver materials such as peanuts and vending machines throughout Canada and the eastern United States.
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Toll of the tragedy: Steven W. Bagby
Steven W. Bagby was found dead in break area at Gregg Division

AGE: 38

HOMETOWN: Augusta

OCCUPATION: Fork lift driver

LENGTH OF EMPLOYMENT AT AVONDALE MILLS: Several years, according to family

FAMILY: Survivors include his infant son, Steven Wayne Bagby Jr., Augusta; his father, Samuel A. Bagby Sr., and his fiance, Marie Schooler, Augusta; his brothers and sisters, Judith Lewis and her husband, DeWayne, of Augusta, Samuel Bagby Jr. and his wife, Judy, of Aiken, and William "Bill" Bagby and his wife, Nikki, of Augusta. He is also survived by his nieces and nephews, Elizabeth Ann Ackerman, Shane Bagby, Philip Bagby and Haley Bagby, three great nieces and two great nephews.

ABOUT MR. BAGBY: Born in Germany, Mr. Bagby resided in Augusta most of his life. He was an avid fisherman and hunter.

HOW WILL MR. BAGBY BE REMEMBERED? As a hard worker who followed in the steps of his brothers, who also once worked at mills, his father said.
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Toll of the tragedy: John Henry Laird Jr.
John Henry Laird Jr. was found dead in a wooded area near the Woodhead plant

AGE: 24

HOMETOWN: North Augusta

OCCUPATION: Lead machine operator

LENGTH OF EMPLOYMENT AT AVONDALE MILLS: Five years

FAMILY: Father and stepmother, John Henry Laird Sr. and Linda Cauthen Laird, of North Augusta; mother and stepfather, Sara Craig Kennebeck and Marvin Kennebeck, of Crossville, Tenn.; his maternal grandmother, Hazel Posey, of Aiken; and his maternal grandfather, Lewis Ronnie Craig, of New Ellenton; a sister, Sarah Marie Laird, of Knoxville, Tenn.; and a brother, Cole Cecil Laird, of Bristol, Tenn.; two stepsisters, Amanda Randall, of Clearwater, S.C.; and Dana Randall, of North Augusta; a niece, Sarah Rebecca Laird, of Knoxville; and a number of aunts, uncles and cousins.

ABOUT MR. LAIRD: Mr. Laird was born in Augusta. He was a member of Breezy Hill Baptist Church in Graniteville.

HOW WILL MR. LAIRD BE REMEMBERED? "As a good-hearted person who would do anything for anybody," his father said.
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Toll of the tragedy: Chris Seeling
Chris Seeling was a train engineer and was pronounced dead at Aiken Regional Medical Centers.

AGE: 28

HOMETOWN: West Columbia, S.C.

OCCUPATION: Conductor/engineer for Norfolk Southern Railroad

FAMILY: He is survived by his father, Stephen Seeling, and stepmother, Patty, of Lenexa, Kansas; mother, Rebecca Jane Fortmeyer, and stepfather, Ed Schmidt, of Morehead City, N.C.; sisters, Carolyn Tomlinson, of Elkhart, Ind., Rebecca Kapsner, of Melrose, Minn., Naomi Knafla, of Sauk Rapids, Minn., and Theresa Schmidt of Morehead City; and brothers, Joseph Schmidt, of Milaca, Minn., and Edward Schmidt, of Morehead City.

ABOUT MR. SEELING: He was born in Fort Wayne, Ind., and lived in the Columbia area since 1996. He was a graduate of B.S.N.F. Railroad Academy at Johnson County Community College. He was secretary/treasurer of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen and a member of the First Presbyterian Church.
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Toll of the tragedy: Allen Frazier
Allen Frazier was found dead in an office at the Gregg Division

AGE: 58

HOMETOWN: Ridge Spring, S.C.

OCCUPATION: Supervisor

LENGTH OF EMPLOYMENT AT AVONDALE MILLS: 36 years

FAMILY: He is survived by his wife, his daughter Celita Frazier and his son Quincy Frazier, of Ridge Spring. ABOUT MR. FRAZIER: He was a native and lifelong resident of Aiken County. He was a graduate of Midland Valley High School.

HOW WILL MR. FRAZIER BE REMEMBERED? As a kind father who loved his family and enjoyed cooking, said his daughter, Celita Frazier.
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Toll of the tragedy: Tony M. DeLoach
Tony M. DeLoach was found dead at his residence.

AGE: 56

HOMETOWN: Graniteville

FAMILY: Unknown

ABOUT MR. DELOACH: Mr. DeLoach was disabled and used a wheelchair. He was known as "the shrimp man" because he sold shrimp out of his house on Main Street.
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A memorial to the victims of the Graniteville train accident was unveiled near the site of the derailment on May 20, 2006. (File photo)

Description

On January 6, 2005, a Norfolk Southern Corp. freight train carrying chemicals hit a parked train near an Avondale Mills plant in Graniteville, South Carolina. The impact caused poisonous chlorine gas to leak from three of the moving train's cars. 9 people died from exposure to chlorine gas and more than 5,000 were evacuated from the site.

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