Discarded school project halts morning commute

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (WTNH) — A left behind school project caused an alert that shut down train service on Metro-North and Amtrak for several hours Friday morning.

“It has been determined that this was an unfortunate accident and there was no malicious intent,” Fairfield police said in a statement (see full statement below).

Police shut down Unquowa Road over the tracks by the Fairfield train station around 5:30 a.m. because a public works crew found something on a railing up there, something the experts didn’t like.

This school project triggered an emergency response and halted Amtrak and Metro-North traffic in Fairfield, June 20, 2014. (Fairfield Police Photo)
This school project triggered an emergency response and halted Amtrak and Metro-North traffic in Fairfield, June 20, 2014. (Fairfield Police Photo)

“Bomb dog and his handler came up and they determined it was strange enough to them that they didn’t want to approach it,” Chief Gary MacNamara of the Fairfield Police Department said, “and once that occurs we really have to call in the bomb squad so they can X-ray it.”

That meant shutting down not just the overpass but the train tracks, too.

In an email and Twitter alert earlier in the morning the MTA said New Haven Line service was delayed for police activity.

Police Special Units are on site investigating a suspicious package. We expect delays of 1 to 2 hours at this time.

A Tweet from Shore Line East painted a more dire picture for commuters:

They found the device around 5:30 am, so for more than two hours, commuters east of the Fairfield ration had to just sit and wait.

Commuters at Fairfield Metro station can only wait for bomb squad to deal with suspicious package, June 20, 2014. (WTNH / Kent Pierce)
Commuters at Fairfield Metro station can only wait for bomb squad to deal with suspicious package, June 20, 2014. (WTNH / Kent Pierce)

“I hate Metro North,” Venithda Sourignamath of Fairfield said. “Every other day there’s a freakin’ problem and they really need to fix it because its annoying and I’m going to be late to work every day.”

“Third Friday in a row there’s been a problem with this train,” Erik Newman of Fairfield said. “Three weeks ago it was the bridge. Last week was police activity, and today again police activity.”

None of that is Metro-North’s fault, but commuters really just wanted to know what was going on.

“I got am email alert from them at 7:13 saying there were delays of 30-60 minutes, which is not true because as soon as you get to the station you realize that service has been suspended altogether,” Donnie Khan of Bridgeport said.

Train riders also told News 8 about the activity going on with emails sent through Report It. “I’m stuck in Milford and officials say nothing is moving at this time,” SMyers said.

“Cops are at all entryways blocking everyone else from getting near there,” Jena wrote.

“Police have train station blocked off,” Lawpup wrote.

“Conductors had no ideas of what was happening when asked. Lots of people stuck in Bridgeport station,” Faith said.

Around 8:30 a.m. the trains stared running again when the bomb squad gave the all-clear. Service wasn’t back to being on-time until around 10 a.m. But what was that something on the overpass? It was a school project, Fairfield Police said.

The package has been identified as a school project constructed at nearby Tomlinson Middle School. The owner has been identified. The child inadvertently left the item in the vicinity of the bridge with the intent of returning to retrieve the school project. The account of what transpired has been confirmed. It has been determined that this was an unfortunate accident and there was no malicious intent.

Case closed

The project looks similar to the character of Bender from the animated TV show “Futurama”.

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