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UPDATE: 3 men sought after train hits stolen tractor

A 17-year-old is in custody and three men are being sought after a train hit a stolen tractor hooked to a pickup in Peach County.

Peach County Sheriff Terry Deese said the four men were riding near the tracks when the truck got stuck and one of the men returned with a large John Deere tractor to try to get the vehicle free early this morning.

A Norfolk Southern train hit the tractor on the tracks and the tow rope pulled the pickup into its path at about 7:45 a.m. between Powersville and Byron.

"I'm just glad no one was hurt," said one train official who responded to the accident.

Deputies picked up the teen on the scene while the other three got away.

"From the reports I've read they were running pretty good so they weren't hurt by any means," Deese said. "At this point we're considering it a tractor theft. We've called all the farmers in the area. No one's reported a tractor (stolen) yet but we know these young men don't have access to that type of a tractor. It was a big cab 4-wheel drive John Deere. It would have to be a pretty big farmer to own something like that."

Investigators suspect the men may have been trying to steal scrap metal along the tracks when the pickup got stuck.

"We're trying to determine whether they were just out joy-riding or just trying to steal something," said Capt. Kenny Cameron of the Peach County Sheriff's Office.

The Norfolk Southern train suffered damage to the locomotive which had to be swapped out with another engine before the train could be moved.

The impact mangled the tractor and the disk harror used for plowing it was pulling. Some of the bent disks littered the tracks.The front window of the pickup was smashed and the back of the truck was damaged near the tailgate.

It took hours for wrecker crews to figure out how to retrieve the wreckage which was in a remote area off Powersville Road.

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