(Ashland, Virginia – July 10, 2012)
A 78-year-old female driver, following heavy railroad construction-disrupted traffic, was injured and taken to a hospital for treatment of undisclosed injuries after Amtrak’s Charlotte, NC-bound “Carolinian” passenger train struck her at the crossing of CSX railroad tracks and Myrtle Street in Ashland, VA Tuesday afternoon.
CSX workers had been working on the tracks in the area, and witnesses reported erratic operation of the bells and crossing gates while hundreds of cars were backed up and then crossing around sometimes- lowered gates without benefit of a CSX railroad flagman to direct traffic at the intersection. Witnesses also said the placement of a CSX truck made access to adjacent crossings impossible unless they drove the wrong way on a one-way street paralleling CSX tracks.
The witnesses said the victim merely followed other traffic as gates opened and closed erratically and bells failed to sound due to the track maintenance operations.
The crossing sees an average of 31 trains, including Amtrak, daily at top speeds of 35 mph. Ashland Police Dept. Lt. Jim Shelhorse said the train’s speed was 15 mph at the time of the collision, and that no citation was issued to the driver.