Trainjacker Allegedly Just Heading to a Bar

By John Ness
|  Sunday, Mar 15, 2009  |  Updated 6:23 AM PDT
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Weird News Photos: Holiday Edition

David Allen Coe famously said that the perfect country & western song would need to address "mama," "trains," "trucks," "prison," and "gettin' drunk." This story may end up involving all five.

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On February 22, Brandon Dowdy allegedly saw locomotive No. 2617 sitting all by its lonesome on the tracks. Cops are charging him with taking it on a seven-mile joyride down the tracks. But the story behind his trainjacking is just now emerging.

Dowdy's alleged accomplice, Alex Johnson-Self, said the plan was to break into the 120-ton vehicle, get it moving down the track, and then drive it to a bar. Johnson-Self would drive his truck to the bar and pick Dowdy up there.

The full story in the Herald is a must-read, in part because it feautures "a classic-rock band called Big Dick and the Extenders," and in part because it looks this was an opportunity Dowdy had waited his whole life for:

Dowdy's mother, flight attendant Elizabeth Combs, says her son has always had a thing for railroads.

The family celebrated his eighth birthday party at the Gold Coast Railroad Museum in South Miami-Dade County. Family photos show Dowdy smiling broadly, wearing a blue and white conductor's hat. His vanilla-frosted birthday cake was decorated with multicolored train figurines.

By age 10, he was volunteering in the model-train room at the museum. The director there confirmed that Dowdy was a volunteer, but did not want to say more.

Dowdy is now charged grand theft, burglary and illegally interfering with a railroad track. CSX railroad told the Herald it takes locomotive theft particularly seriously in the aftermath of 9/11.

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