NTSB says one of two trains involved in Sunday collision failed to heed signals


The National Transportation Safety Board said Monday that a southbound Union Pacific train was given signals to slow down and wait for an oncoming train to move onto an adjacent track minutes before the two trains collided in northeast Arkansas early Sunday morning.

According to Jonesboro ABC television affiliate KAIT, NTSB Investigator Michael Hiller said at a briefing that two crew members on the southbound train were killed in the collision near Hoxie while two crew members on the northbound train were injured.

Hiller said that the southbound train was signaled to wait but failed to do so, which led to the collision.

Hiller said that the NTSB is still gathering evidence from the signal system to determine why the train headed toward Little Rock did not stop. The northbound train was heading to St. Louis, Hiller said, according to KAIT.

Engineer Chance Gober of White Hall and Conductor Roderick Hayes of McKinney, Texas were killed, said Jeff DeGraff, Union Pacific spokesman.

The injured crew members were Engineer Michael Zampakos of Maumelle and conductor Aaron Jeffery of Conway.

Funeral arrangements for Gober will be announced by Ralph Robinson & Son Funeral Directors.

Gober was the father of Estee Alexander Gober, who died unexpectedly in March 2012 at age 3. The White Hall community came together after her death, holding several fundraisers to help the family.

“If I sat down and wrote a ‘thank you’ card to everyone who reached out to our family during this difficult time, I would be writing a year from now,” Chance Gober said in an April 2012 White Hall Progress article about a fundraiser hosted by the Little League team of his son, Jack Gober, Estee’s brother.