(Cheraw, South Carolina – July 7, 2011)
The tragic deaths of two Cheraw, SC public works dept. employees at a dangerous, unguarded CSX railroad crossing June 20 are causing a great deal of grief as well as concern. Had the Amtrak passenger train that hit the city truck pulling a large trailer derailed, this situation could have been much worse.
The East Market Street crossing where the accident occurred at 7:45 A.M. that June morning is heavily obscured by foliage and has neither lights nor gates to warn of approaching trains, but only railroad crossbucks and stop signs.
Cheraw city employees Glenn Locklear, 52, and Barney Driggers, 56, died when the Amtrak train struck and demolished their city vehicle. Both Cheraw Mayor Scott Hunter and Fire Chief John L. Melton brought up concerns over the accident during Tuesday night’s monthly Cheraw Town Council meeting.
The accident, according to Town Manager Mike Smith, served as a “wake-up call”, and has led to extensive revisiting of Cheraw’s emergency preparedness plans and policies.
“That train could have easily derailed,” observed Chief Melton. “We’re not exempt…we need to be diligent.”
At the close of the meeting, Mayor Hunter reported that the northbound Amtrak train had actually lifted off the tracks at the impact of the collision, but miraculously came to rest back on the rails. The accident continues to be under investigation by a special team from the South Carolina Highway Patrol.