(Smiths Station, Alabama December 1, 2016)
A Norfolk Southern freight train struck a pickup truck and ejected all three of its occupants last Thursday night at about 9:00 P.M., at a notorious crossing near the Smith’s Station High School. The two human occupants were sent to hospitals for treatment of their serious injuries. The third occupant, a dog named Flip, who was also seriously injured, stayed near the wreck site.
The pickup was driven by Scott Cox, 44, and with Yulanda Haddan, 43, in the passenger seat and with her dog alongside. This clearly dangerous crossing was the third injury accident since 2013. The victims were traveling on Lee Road 430, and turned onto Lee Road 927, which intersects with the unsignalized crossing in barely a car length, when they were struck by the train. All the victims were from Phenix City, AL.
As stated, the victims were airlifted to Emory Medical Center in Atlanta, GA, where both were admitted. Ms. Haddan is still hospitalized in serious condition a week after the accident. Cox recovered sufficiently to be released from hospital care in a few days.
Meanwhile, the day after the crash, SSHS students noticed an obviously injured dog wandering aimlessly around the schools parking lot. When the dog collapsed in pain, students and staff came to the rescue. When notified of the seriousness of the situation, Special Education Teacher Tammy Mayoral went to check on the fainted animal, and immediately sought the help of Smith’s Station Animal Hospital’s Dr. Nicole Namie. The veterinarian treated the injured dog and put his picture on social media, and within two hours received a call from Ms. Haddan’s daughter, who not only had not been notified of her mothers accident and serious injury, but said she had tried, unsuccessfully, to contact her mother once she saw Flips photo on the social network.
Flips medical bills amounted to nearly $1,200, and organized school and community efforts quickly covered the treatment costs through donations.
The crossing, where five injuries had now developed after all three accidents, one in 2013, which hurt two, one in 2014 which resulted in a single injury, and Thursdays collision. Noting the occurrence of now the third accident in four years, Smith’s Station Mayor Bubba Copeland told WRBL-TV, Channel 3 that he was excited about the upcoming installation of crossing gates and flashing lights at the crossing, with construction scheduled to start in the first part of January. According to Federal Railroad Administration records, the crossing accommodates six trains cross daily at top speeds of 50 mph.