A jaunt on a stolen train Thursday ended in a crash and possible federal felony charges for the 22-year-old driver.
Derek Skyler Brux was charged Friday with reckless endangering, felony destruction of property and felony destruction, obstruction or removal of railroad track or fixtures after allegedly stealing a train from North Antelope Rochelle mine and driving it south 13 miles before plowing it into another train.
Deputies were called out to the mine at about 8:55 a.m. Thursday.
The incident started when Brux, a utility coal operator for Rail Link, allegedly became upset about his supervisor's response to working conditions, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed in Circuit Court.
The disgruntled employee then unhooked some cars and drove the locomotive around what is described as a “loop” at the site and “pretty much squashed the 'expletive' outta their scales,” Brux said, according to the affidavit.
Brux then called his supervisor and asked her if she wanted to play chicken, the affidavit says. He hung up the phone and then called the rail dispatch, advising personnel there he was going onto the main rail line.
Brux said he estimated he was going 60 mph for about 15 minutes before plowing through switch 1. He told deputies he did not know where he was headed and that he wanted to make Rail Link pay, the affidavit says.
Brux said he headed south on the main line. When asked how fast he was going, the affidavit says he responded that he didn't know if he “quite got up to 70 mph,” but estimated he was going 50 mph for a good part of the trip.
Employees from Peabody Energy Corp. and Burlington Northern Santa Fe LLC. Attempted to stop the locomotive between rail mile markers 53 and 58 but were unsuccessful, according to the affidavit.
At least one person, Royce Biegler, was reported to be working on the train tracks at the time of the incident, the affidavit says. When Biegler heard Brux call dispatch and say he going on the main line, Biegler moved his pickup off the track before the oncoming train arrived.
No injuries were reported.
At some point in his journey, Brux ran through another switch and eventually passed through an area where construction was occurring near a highway crossing somewhere between North Antelope and South Antelope.
Brux told deputies he blew his horn while passing and said that there were “a lot of workers there," the affidavit says. When asked if he scared the workers Brux said, “They were probably (expletive) scared. They probably (expletive) themselves. Whatever.”
During the ride, Rail Link employees tried contacting Brux on his employee phone, Brux told investigators. He got mad and said was not an Apple fan and smashed the phone for something to do.
He took the train to Nacco Junction before backing out onto the main line and approaching a train on track 1 near an oil field crossing, according to the affidavit. Brux finally crashed the train into another at NACCO Junction on BNSF rail mile marker 62.5.
“I wanted to see what it was like to hit something, so I hit at it,” Brux said, according to the affidavit. Brux then backed up and hit the train again. He estimates the speed of both collisions was under 10 mph.
Kerby Caves, a Rail Link Employee, arrived at the scene of the crash as Brux was attempting to leave the area, the affidavit says. Caves hit the emergency shut-off switch on the fuel tank, disabling the train.
Brux then fled on foot toward a treeline before being caught by deputies. He stated that he was having a bad day and trying to prove a point. When asked if he had thought about taking his own life, Brux replied, “a couple of times.”
The affidavit reports Brux said he would do so by hitting “another train, putting possibly other lives in danger ...”
The total cost of the damages is not known. One switch is valued at about $50,000. The cost of the two BNSF and one Union Pacific locomotive was not available, nor was the cost of the other switch, rail line or the mine scales damaged during his joyride, affidavit says.
Reckless endangering is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment up to one year, a fine up to $750 or both. Felony destruction of property is punishable by imprisonment of not more than 10 years, a fine of up to $10,000 or both. Destruction, obstruction or removal of railroad track or fixtures is a felony punishable by a imprisonment of not less than one year and not more than 20 years, a fine of up to $10,000 or both.
Brux could also face additional federal charges from the Federal Railroad Administration.