Sims Crane helps emergency responders at railroad accident

By D.Ann Shiffler15 November 2013

Swift action by employees at Sims Crane & Equipment Co. helped emergency responders quickly locate the body of a railroad worker crushed in a train derailment on October 25 in Sanford, FL.

Chris Arnold, Sims’ Orlando-based crane application specialist, said that minutes after he heard about the derailment on a radio newscast, he was in touch with his Railworks Corporation client contact at the Sun Rail accident site, and offered to send a crane to lift the derailed cars back on track.

Arnold said he did not know then that a railroad employee had been crushed beneath one of the cars, which were carrying gravel at the Sun Rail expansion construction site.

“We work derailments regularly, but this was the first fatality for me,” said Arnold.

When given the go-ahead by his Railworks contacts to send a crane to the site, Arnold contacted two nearby Sims crane operators – one with a 175-ton rig in Orlando and one with a 110-ton rig returning from a job in South Daytona.

Both headed to the site, and within 90 minutes from when Arnold first heard about the accident, the 110-ton arrived first with Certified Crane Operator Bill Leonard at the controls.

“Within 30 minutes of arriving, he was set up and fully rigged for the lift,” said Arnold. “As a safety concern, we had Florida Power & Light cut the power to the overhead lines before making the lift.”

Leonard gently hoisted the end of the rail car – a lift of about 36,000 pounds – up and away from the spill site, and a team from the Seminole County Coroner’s Office removed the body. The lift lasted 30 minutes until emergency responders could complete their investigation. In the meantime, the 175-ton rig had arrived to serve as backup if needed.

Total time elapsed from first awareness of the accident to securing from the site was about two hours, Arnold said.

“It was a tragic event and our hearts go out to the family of the deceased railroad employee,” said Dean Sims II, vice president of marketing, Sims Crane & Equipment. “We are gratified we were able to play even a small role in this emergency response situation as a service to our community.”

Delivered directly to your inbox, World Crane Week Newsletter features the pick of the breaking news stories, product launches, show reports and more from KHL's world-class editorial team.
Latest News
Safety, synergies and supply chain: an interview with Sims HD CEO
Erika Sims and her team are full speed ahead in the realm of heavy haul in the Sunshine State.
What is the status of the North American crane market?
Three experts discuss market indicators – interest rates, inflation and the possibility of a recession.
Tower Crane 50 - Enter now
Submit your form by July 14, 2023. 
D.Ann Shiffler Editor, American Cranes & Transport Tel: +1 512 869 8838 E-mail:
Matt Burk VP Sales Tel: +1 312 496 3314 E-mail: