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Van Buren Police: A Kids’ Train Overturns; Conductor Not Driving On Designated Path

VAN BUREN (KFMS) -- A kids' train overturned onto the street near 6th Street and Knox Street in Van Buren early Saturday (May 20) afternoon, according to Van Buren police.

"After it shook about five times, he swerved to keep us from going down the hill," passenger Crystal Caudill, said. "We broke off of his tractor and everyone started flipping over."

An eye-witness said he and his neighbor were on their front porches when the accident happened.

"I saw the train conductor come off the top of the hill, come down Knox Street," William Brown said. "I heard squealing from what seemed like the brakes being locked up on the train or the tractor. We both just kind of went in that, 'oh my gosh,' mode. We were more worried about the kids. There were a lot of adults on there as well who were probably shaken up just as much as the kids."

Sergeant Larry Brown confirms that the train conductor did not take the appropriate route.  When the train driver attempted to turn a corner the back of the train jack-knifed causing the other cars to flip. Sgt. Brown said he believes everyone was treated at the scene for minor cuts and bruises.

The same information was given by two organizers of the Old Timers Day Arts & Crafts Festival in Van Buren who said that the train conductor did not take the designated route, took a turn too quickly and the train flipped.  This train ride was part of the weekend festival.

Residents said this isn't the first time they've seen trouble on Knox Hill.

"I've seen cars come down it, actual cars and trucks," Brown said. "They go to hit their brakes and they keep going."

Caudill said despite having to take her niece to the hospital to get checked out, she's thankful everyone is safe.

"It is kind of scary because with these roads in Van Buren, I know that there's a lot of steep hills. With that type of train ride, I don't think we should have gone off course if there was a course that he was supposed to be taking."

There were four adults and seven children on the train at the time of the accident.

Caudill said passengers were refunded their money for the train ticket.

Organizers said the operator of the train ride was asked to leave the festival.

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