FARGO — A Fargo man could face life in prison if convicted of trying to derail a train near Casselton, N.D., in May, a federal prosecutor said.
Skylar Dayne Goodman, 19, appeared Monday, Sept. 14, in Fargo’s federal court, where he is charged with violence against a railroad carrier. A criminal complaint alleges he attempted to derail a BNSF Railway train on May 7.
U.S. Assistant Attorney Jennifer Puhl said she couldn’t disclose much information about the incident since the case is open. That includes what Goodman allegedly did to try to derail the train.
Puhl, who is prosecuting the case, said the only people aboard the train were BNSF employees.
Sgt. Tim Briggeman with the Cass County Sheriff's Office said his agency, which assisted with the investigation, was made aware of the incident by BNSF Police on May 8. A train engineer reported "rough tracks" about a mile west of Casselton near 154th Avenue Southeast, he said.
Briggeman said he was unsure of what the train was hauling at the time, but he confirmed it was a cargo train.
"Considering the case is federal at this time, I will be cautious as to what I release and would defer you to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for comment," he said.
No one was injured and the train did not derail, Puhl said.
BNSF deferred questions to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Fargo, though it confirmed BNSF police worked with other law enforcement on the investigation.
An arrest warrant for Goodman was issued Aug. 19, the same day the U.S. Attorney's Office filed its criminal complaint against him.
Goodman was booked into the Cass County Jail on Friday, Sept. 11, after his arraignment that afternoon. He has since been released from custody.
A trial has been set for Nov. 17.
Typically, a person charged with such a crime would face up to 20 years in prison, Puhl said. Since several employees were on the train at the time, Goodman could be sent to prison for life if found guilty, she said.
In December 2013, about 1,500 residents had to evacuate their homes in Casselton after a derailment outside the town caused a fiery explosion. A westbound grain train derailed about a half mile west of the central Cass County town before it hit an eastbound crude oil train.
The explosion sent a ball of fire into the air before plumes of black smoke cast a long shadow over the city.
No one was seriously injured in the incident.