(South Point, Ohio – February 13, 2013)
The driver of a Federal Express delivery van escaped with his life, but not without injury, Wednesday afternoon about 2:30 P.M. when his vehicle was struck and overturned by a Norfolk Southern freight train at the dangerous, unguarded, highly-elevated crossing of Randall Road just north of South Point, OH, near the confluence of Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky.
According to Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless, the yet-to-be-identified driver received minor injuries and was taken to a local hospital for treatment.
Wednesday’s near-tragedy was neither the first accident at the NS/Randall Road crossing, and nearby residents predict it won’t be the last. Reporting from the scene, WCHS-TV, Channel 8, ABC Eyewitness News Anchor Dave Benton described the crossing’s “protection” as “where the southbound side of the tracks run, there’s only one stop sign, while travelling northbound there’s no warning – no crossing gates, bells or even caution lights.”
Benton interviewed several residents who have seen plenty of near-collisions at the crossing, as well as a couple who were actually struck by a NS freight train a few years ago. Ora Ratliff and Albert Perrock, Jr., recalled their frightening, almost final experience at the northbound approach. “He (Albert) pulled up and stopped, and then eased on up (the crossing approach), and by the time we could see a train, I was staring right at it,” said Ora. “It hit us and turned the car all the way around,” added Albert.
The couple agrees that it won’t surprise them if someone dies at the crossing. “I’ve predicted all along, somebody’s going to get killed up here, whether it’s a child or (someone in) a car crossing,” said Ora.
Benton also talked to a resident who did not identify herself, but stated “I’m concerned because I have children and grandchildren who cross these tracks, and this (crossing collision situation) has happened several times in the last 25 years.” The woman added that “the steep grade and the curve of the track make it hard to see if a train is coming at the crossing.”
Upon calling a Norfolk Southern spokesperson for comment, Benton was told that “the state of Ohio is in charge of safety devices at the crossing.” A reporter for the Charleston Herald-Dispatch received a similar cop-out, possibly from the same NS spokesperson, who said “the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio is responsible for implementing safety devices at railroad crossings.”
Federal Railroad Administration records indicate that, indeed, Wednesday’s accident was at least the third since 2000.