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Indicted train engineer allegedly videotaped as man was killed on Alabama train track

A train engineer who allegedly videotaped when his locomotive hit heavy equipment on southern Alabama tracks, killing a Mississippi man, has been charged with manslaughter in the crash, according to reports. court documents.

James Jeffery Elder, 49, of Spanish Fort was indicted last week by Mobile County grand jurors in the death of Dexter Scott of Laurel, Mississippi, WKRG-TV reported.

Elder, who worked for Alabama Export Railroad at the time of the collision, was arrested and released on $75,000 bond. Court records do not include the name of a defense attorney who could speak on his behalf.

Prichard police say Elder was driving a Canadian National train that collided with equipment that was installing railroad ties on city tracks on November 17, 2020.

The train was traveling at 19 mph around a curve when it hit a boom truck, which overturned the backhoe on workers, killing one contractor and injuring three others, according to a National Transportation Safety Board investigation.

The engineer was distracted by a video chat on a personal cell phone while the train was in motion, a violation of federal regulations, the agency found. Minutes before impact, the engineer removed his hat and placed it in front of a surveillance camera, but the man could still be seen holding the phone, according to the report.

The indictment accused Elder of “recklessly using a cellular device while operating a locomotive” and going too fast for the conditions.

The engineer was fired and the company took action, including lowering the speed limit on its lanes, according to the federal investigation.