(Palmetto, Georgia – February 5, 2016)
The death of 53-year-old Newnan, GA woman late Thursday evening marked the second fatal accident among the five train/highway vehicle collisions that have tragically occurred at the dangerous and unguarded crossing of a pair of CSX railroad tracks and Harper Street.
Mildred Brookshire was extricated from her mangled, overturned car at about 11:15 pm, EST, when her car was struck by a southbound CSX freight train. According to railroad supplied records to the Federal Railroad Administration, the train was one of the daily average of 17 trains that travel at speeds as high as 50 mph. Amazingly, the victim’s dog survived the ordeal relatively unscathed.
Witness Mike Traylor told Atlanta Fox TV Channel 5 Reporter Portia Bruner that he was just about to turn into his home driveway off of Main Street when he saw the train strike, flip and shove the white car down the track. “I used to be a firefighter, so I tried to help her,” recalled Traylor. “I saw her in there (trapped in the wreckage), but it was just too late. I couldn’t feel a pulse. And it was so sad because her dog was in the back seat with a blank stare. His legs were pinned in the back so he couldn’t move. It was bad.”
Traylor continued his description of the tragic event, telling Fox 5 News that “Some family members came and got the dog after he was rescued, but a man who must have been her husband just stayed there at the car, just so sad.”
An unidentified neighbor told Fa 5 News that “This is the second person to die at this intersection in two years. It’s not right. Something needs to be done because sometimes you may not hear the train or see it as it’s coming around the curve until the last minute.”
Another observer, who had lived near the tragic crossing for eight years, was not only more critical, but made a prediction as well. “There are two tracks here, not just one, like at the intersection where there are crossing arms,” Robert Swaney told Reporter Bruner. “There’s a lot more traffic crossing through there, too, so this could happen again!”
According to FRA records, a 19-year-old man died in a December 29, 2013 crash and three individuals suffered serious injuries in a December 9, 2008 collision. There were also two other collisions at the Harper Street/CSX crossing, one on September 22, 2005, and one as recent incident on June 1, 2015. Those collisions produced no fatal or non-fatal injuries, but they should certainly have raised red flags to the railroad. It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with lights and gates, these collisions would not have happened. Both CSX and Operation Lifesaver 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%.