25th Anniversary of Livingston Parish Train Derailment - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

25th Anniversary of Livingston Parish Train Derailment

Scene of September 1982 Derailment Scene of September 1982 Derailment
Smoke from Explosion Two Days After Initial Derailment Smoke from Explosion Two Days After Initial Derailment
Scene of September 1982 Derailment Scene of September 1982 Derailment
Jodie Henderson from WAFB 9NEWS archive, September 1982 Jodie Henderson from WAFB 9NEWS archive, September 1982

Friday marked the 25th Anniversary of a date many longtime residents of Livingston Parish, Louisiana residents will never forget: September 28, 1982. On that day, 25 years ago, a mile-long train derailed in the town of Livingston, forcing an estimated 2,700 residents from their homes for nearly two weeks.

The train included 35 tank cars filled with a variety of hazardous and poisonous chemicals. For several days after the derailment, a series of explosions occured at the site. It was mainly the threat of even more explosions that kept residents evacuated for so long. Many were forced to buy new clothing, or borrow clothes, since they left their homes with only the clothes they were wearing, and very little, if any, money.

The train's engineer, Edward Peyton Robertson, who was accused of being drunk at the time, was later found guilty of recklessly handling hazardous cargo. He was sentenced to one year in prison.

"It looked like an accordian," said Wayne Henderson who watched the train cars burn.  Henderson's wife gave birth to a baby girl, Jodie, five days after the derailment. Jodie Henderson, who is now a Baton Rouge attorney, says family friends often called her "derail" as she was growing up. 

Reporters:  Keitha Nelson, WAFB-TV; Robb Hays, WAFB.COM

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