Neither Robert Brandon Wheeler, 27, nor Misty M. Taylor, 37, both of Louisville, were granted probation in Nelson Circuit Court Dec. 9.
Both were sentenced to two years in prison for complicity to first-degree criminal mischief and two years in prison for complicity to first-degree wanton endangerment, with the sentences to be served concurrently for a total of two years.
Court records state that Nelson County Sheriff's Deputy Jerry Hardin was called to New Haven Sept. 23, 2010, where he and New Haven Police Officer Kenny Holbert discovered Wheeler and Taylor pulling a yellow wagon down the tracks with metal inside.
The wagon contained about 200 steel railroad spikes, 54 top plates and other materials, according to the deputy's report. However, about 591 rail spikes, 100 tie plates and other items were ultimately discovered missing.
Museum Executive Director Greg Mathews told deputies that the track had been shut down, but if a train had ridden over the tracks, it could have very possibly derailed.
The section of track from which metal had been taken was between Howardstown Crossing and the South Switch to the yard sidings south of the KRM station, a report from Mathews in Wheeler's court file states. This section of track had been used as recently as Sept. 18 and 19, 2010, and was also used for Thomas the Tank Engine excursions of 400 or more passengers in June, Mathews reported. Mathews wrote that the theft resulted in "a major safety defect under federal FRA Safety Regulations," shutting down the track.
"Locomotives and passenger cars would derail and if moving at more than 5 to 10 mph (normal track speed on excursions is between 15 and 25 mph) would probably not only derail but would cause the locomotive and cars to turn over, severely injuring and probably killing some occupants," Mathews wrote.
The stolen materials were valued at about $740, but Mathews estimated repair of the track could cost at least $4,000 - or higher, according to estimates in other reports from Mathews in the court file.