State police responded to the tracks behind the Green Mountain Feed business in Bethel around 10 p.m. Sunday night.
"Someone had tampered with two full grain cars causing the brakes to release. The two cars rolled into a third car which pushed it through its stop," said Vermont State Police Lt. William Jenkin.
"There is a tremendous financial burden -- and everybody's safety," said Greg Abbott with Green Mountain Feeds. Abbott has worked at the feed plant for several years and says whoever is responsible knew what they were doing. "It's not just one step. There are multiple things to do to get those cars to move," he said.
It's what's below the tracks that is the real cause for alarm -- homes and businesses that would be no match for a runaway freight car.
"We heard this big thud," said Christina Sevene, who lives right next to the plant. While her house would likely not have been impacted if the derailed car rolled down the hill, others would have felt its full force. "To me it's like, why would somebody do anything like that. This is a neighborhood that everybody gets along with everybody," Sevene said.
The incident comes on the heels of the Lac-Megantic, Quebec train disaster that claimed the lives of 47 people. A runaway train that derailed and exploded. That incident highlights how dangerous and deadly the weekend's senseless act could have been. "If that car that went off the track had rolled over into the track, the freighter that went by moments after could have hit it, could have derailed, could have ended up on Rt. 107," Abbott said.
Police are searching for those involved. A felony unlawful mischief charge is pending.
"If you want to get even with somebody or you thought it was a joke, whatever the case was, it wasn't very well thought," Abbott said.
A close call that those affected say should never have happened in the first place.
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