(Lipscomb, Alabama – May 30, 2018)
An adult brother and sister are dead after Amtrak’s Southern Crescent killed the pair as they pulled out in front of a standing Norfolk Southern freight train that blocked their view of the New Orleans-bound passenger train. The Amtrak train was coming beside the NS freight train on a parallel track which contains a long curve. The collision occurred early Wednesday afternoon about 1:09 P.M., CDT.
Killed at the scene were the driver, Lapolean Mixon, 76, and his sister, Odell Smith, 83, both of Lipscomb.
Two Amtrak officials gave out information about the Crescent’s status, but failed to address claims that the crossing gate and flashing lights may have been only errantly active as the Amtrak train with 60 passengers on board shot past the standing freight in 79 mph territory, according to files kept by the Federal Railroad Administration..
The crossing of 15th Street (also known as Brewer Drive) and NS double railroad tracks sees the passage of as many as 18 NS freights and Amtrak passenger trains on an average day, according to the FRA. Wednesday’s tragedy marked the 11th collision between a train and a highway vehicle at that road/rail intersection, and the third and fourth fatality to be suffered there. Additionally, three non-fatal injuries have also occurred there.
Calling the road “dangerous”, Harry Stewart, who has lived near the site of the tragedy for years, was sitting on his porch when the accident occurred, and predicted that it “Probably will happen again,” he told reporters for ABC News Channel 33-40
The large Lincoln Town Car containing the victims was carried at least a half mile west from the point of impact.
Also, a NS official who was on the ground near the crossing was reportedly an eye-witness to the horrible tragedy, but it was not known if he was involved in any manner.
Amtrak public/news media relations spokespersons Kimberly Woods and Christina Leeds both issued statements to Birmingham, AL area news media.