(Bessemer, Alabama – October 4, 2011)
A 32-year-old Bessemer, AL mother of three small children died Tuesday morning about 11:00 A.M. when she attempted to cross four Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks at the crossing of Carolina Avenue in Bessemer, AL, an intersection with a dangerous history.
Priscilla Morgan, driving her 2001 Mitsubishi Galant , allegedly stopped for the flashing lights and lowered crossing gate, but then proceeded across the first three sets of tracks, only to be hit by a Norfolk Southern freight train as she encountered the fourth set of rails. Her car was struck on the passenger’s side and carried a short distance by the train.
The NS/Carolina Avenue crossing is notorious, having been the site of 13 accidents resulting in 6 injuries and two deaths, counting Tuesday’s tragedy. The victim’s sister, Carleena Morgan, charged that the crossing’s signals do not operate properly.
“You really don’t know if a train is coming or a train is not coming because the rails will be down. They will be like ding, ding, ding, ding and they will stay down. You will be like is the train coming or not?”
As Fox Channel 6 reporters were interviewing Carleena, her accusations were proven correct, as, while on camera, the signals activated, the gates lowered, and no train ever came.
When the TV station tried to determine who was responsible for signal maintenance at the crossing, they were given the run-around.
“The railroad company (Norfolk Southern) says the state transportation department is in charge of them, but ALDOT says the railroad company is supposed to maintain it.”