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Is 'Unstoppable' based on a true story?

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Unstoppable movie poster starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pine

Poster for 'Unstoppable.'

© 20th Century Fox

Question: Is 'Unstoppable' based on a true story?

Denzel Washington and director Tony Scott team up for the fifth time with the action thriller Unstoppable about a runaway train loaded with dangerous cargo headed toward disaster. But is the story true? The poster says Unstoppable's "inspired by true events" but what's the real scoop?

Answer: Yes, the 20th Century Fox film Unstoppable is in fact loosely inspired by actual events. On May 15, 2001, an unmanned train with 47 cars left Stanley rail yard in Walbridge, Ohio, and took off on a 66 mile journey. The cause: prior to exiting the train, the engineer made a mistake with the braking system which left the engine under power. The train, carrying molten phenol in two of its cars, reached speeds in the 50 mph range.

For a little under two hours, the runaway train rolled through northern Ohio before another train manned by Jesse Knowlton and Terry Forson was deployed to catch up with the unmanned train. Knowlton and Forson were able to use their locomotive to slow the runaway train down to 11 mph, allowing CSX Trainmaster Jon Hosfeld to climb aboard and stop the train.

 

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