Federal investigation opens as crews find remains of two BNSF employees

Tom Hinde

BNSF officials recovered the remains of two of the three missing crew members from Tuesday's rail accident near Panhandle. Railroad officials haven't released the names of the four crew members involved in the crash. The name of one of the deceased was confirmed by friends and family. BNSF engineer Cody Owens, of Claude, was killed in the accident.

BNSF confirmed the westbound train was traveling from Chicago to Los Angeles and the eastbound train was going from San Bernardino, Calif., to Chicago.

Speculation as to the cause of the head-on train collision is growing. However, the investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), who arrived on site Wednesday, said it could be up to a year before findings are released. "Our mission is to understand not just what happened, but why it happened, and to make recommendations or changes to prevent it from happening again," said Richard Hipskind, an NTSB railroad accident investigator and track specialist. "We will not be determining the cause while we are here on scene, nor will we speculate about what may have caused this accident."