Cost of New Britain Freight Train Crash

NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters learned that it will cost New Britain nearly $80,000 to respond to a train wreck earlier this month. 

City leaders are hoping to strike a deal with Pan Am Railways, Inc. and the Naugatuck Railroad company for reimbursement, according to documents obtained by NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters. 

Jesse Suarez owns Leon's Liquors in the busy shopping plaza right near the site of the crash. He was working the day it happened and said "I see the cars all derailed!" 

According to paperwork, $78,432.24 is the estimated cost city leaders say it took to respond to the Dec. 6 train derailment in the heart of downtown.

NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters obtained this letter of reimbursement sent to Pan Am Railways and the Naugatuck Railroad Company on Wednesday.

Weeks after the accident that also impacted local business owners, who pay property taxes here in the city.

"We were here that day and I was standing right behind counter and I seen one of the cars fell off. We lose a little money, we had to shut down, no choice," Suarez reminded NBC Connecticut.

The next day, New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart informed the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters they were already sorting out the costs and figuring out who to seek reimbursement from.

"Our police costs our overtime Costs. Our DPW costs for OT. Building and Inspections Dept. Out here. We had NB EMS, so certainly a big cost to this having a lot of people on staff, on call for 24-hours," Stewart told NBC Connecticut back on Dec. 7.

NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters requested invoices from city department heads; including $24,000 for police regular and overtime duties, a $40,000 bill to replace and repair a damaged brick wall, $7,700 for City Department of Public Works wages and equipment and $3,000 for fire department response. 

"They should be asking for reimbursement. Taxpayers from the city of NB should not pay anything in this accident," Suarez said.

Co-owner of Leon's Liquors and the wife of Jesse Suarez, Maria Suarez, stated: "It's not our fault!"

In its reimbursement request, the city offers both companies the chance to remove the remaining brick wall at their expense, in lieu of its $40,000 replacement, leaving both companies, the rest of the $38,400 bill.

Jesse Suarez thinks that is a fair move, "To me it's not much, what they're charging. It could've been a loss of life, which would've been worse!"

A Pan Am Railways spokesman said they haven't received the letter and can't respond until they do.

The Naugatuck railroad company hasn't called NBC Connecticut back.

Meanwhile we've asked the Federal Railroad Administration for a cause and they tell us it is still under investigation. City officials say they haven't heard anything yet either.

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