Authorities are searching for a man who dropped a boulder onto the Cape Cod Central Railroad dinner train as it traveled through Sandwich Thursday night, an incident that took place shortly after 150 passengers finished a five-course meal on the ride aimed at evoking a bygone era.
The incident happened at 8:30 p.m. on Old County Road near Chase Road in Sandwich, according to Sandwich Police Officer Philip Anderson.Railroad staff reported to police that a man dropped the boulder from an overpass as the train was traveling eastbound, he said.
Witnesses told police that they saw a white male, approximately 20 years old, wearing jeans and a gray long-sleeved T-shirt, drop the large rock and flee the scene, Anderson said.
No injuries were reported among the passengers.
The boulder weighed an estimated 40 pounds and caused significant damage to the train’s front headlights and might have caused damage to the train’s undercarriage, Anderson said.
The train, which offers soft music, fresh flowers, and a candlelit five-course meal, was delayed for a half-hour while police investigated the scene, said Jonathan Babbitt, superintendent of passenger operations for the railroad.
“Under federal law, the locomotive was able to continue to continue to its destination but we can’t send it out until all of the equipment on board has been repaired,” Babbitt said.
He said railroad staff members are assessing the damage to the train’s undercarriage and are in the process of repairing the headlights. Cape Cod Central Railroad and the Massachusetts Coastal Railroad are subsidiaries of Cape Rail Inc., he said.
Babbitt said he had never encountered an incident such as this.
“In the history of the Cape Cod Central Railroad, we’ve occasionally had stones thrown at the trains by kids, but nothing of this magnitude,” Babbitt said.
He said the act was not a practical joke, but a violation of federal law. “This is not just a schoolboy prank,” he said.
The dinner train provides “gourmet dining, outstanding service, and magical memories,” according to the Cape Cod Central website.
“All that makes Cape Cod special... marsh and dune, seabirds and salt air, glimpses of the bay and scenes of quaint village life... pass your window as you journey to a bygone era,” the description boasts.