(Barton, Alabama – April 13, 2016)
A 46-year-old resident of Cherokee, AL, Derris Lemone Cortner, was killed Wednesday afternoon at about 1:30 P.M., EDT, when his southbound pickup truck was struck by a Norfolk Southern freight train. The tragedy occurred at the dangerous and unguarded railroad crossing of Norfolk Southern rails and Red Rock Road near Barton, AL.
According to FRA records, 22 NS trains traverse the crossing at an average day at a top allowable speed of 60 mph.
A 1994 accident had resulted in a pair of non-fatal injuries. Yet, there has yet to be any improvement to the crossing’s active warning devices, such as the addition of lights and gates. It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with lights and gates, this collision would not have happened. Both NS and Operation Lifesaver all know that lights and gates are the most effective type of protection at railroad crossings. Studies that have been conducted over fifty years ago confirm that lights and gates offer the ability to drastically reduce the number of vehicle/train accidents by as much as 96%.
Alabama State Troopers and Colbert County Sheriff’s Officers responded to the tragedy.