(Bessemer, Alabama – October 21, 2011)
After a double fatality at the Bessemer, AL crossing of Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks and 20th Street early Friday morning, Birmingham, AL CBS affiliate WIAT-TV attempted to give a forum to both sides of the crossing carnage debate in a Friday feature story.
WIAT-TV Reporter Stephanie Salvatore observed that “the Norfolk Southern trains charge through downtown Bessemer multiple times a day. But the constant presence and warning signs don’t seem to be enough.”
Citing the two killed in Friday’s tragedy as well as a single fatality at a Bessemer crossing less than a month ago, WIAT found Alabama Operation Lifesaver Executive Director Nancy Hudson ready to affix responsibility.
“When the lights are flashing and the gates are down, the road is technically and legally closed,” she alleged. “Just because you can’t see a train nearby does not mean that a train isn’t approaching.”
But Bessemer residents Gwendolyn Williams and Rodney Davis leveled blame at the railroad.
“We don’t understand what’s going on with this train,” charged Williams, mentioning that the couple has lost two friends this year in railroad-related tragedies. “I don’t think the train should be located in the midst of town. There’s too many kids, too many children, too much traffic; to me, it should be a little more on the outskirts of town.”