(Adams Center, New York – November 4, 2013)
It only took one day to prove government officials in several northern New York communities that were protesting against announced a considerable increase (from 25 mph to 40 or 45 mph) in allowable speeds for CSX Transportation trains right as the driver of a dump truck was seriously injured in a collision with a CSX freight train at a dangerous, unguarded private crossing in Adams Center, NY Monday.
Andrew J. Beeman, 42, of Lacona, NY, received serious injuries Monday morning at about 9:20 A.M. when the King’s Quarry dump truck loaded with sand was struck by a 41-car CSX freight train being pulled by five locomotives and headed from Syracuse, NY to Massena, NY, according to CSX spokesperson Melanie D. Cost. The truck, which was destroyed, was dragged about 500 feet by the train before it could be brought to a halt.
The victim, who had been driving for King’s Quarry for about a year, was taken to Upstate Medical University Hospital in Syracuse, NY, where he was listed in fair condition with a fractured sternum.
The crossing has no active protection such as flashing lights, bells or crossing gates. It is virtually certain that lights and gates would have prevented this incident. Both CSX and Operation Lifesaver know 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%.
Law enforcement officials said that the train was accelerating from 25 mph to 40 mph, noting that it was, indeed, day one of the speed increase.
There must have been something CSX did not want to be published or broadcast regarding the accident, as the railroad ordered public law enforcement officers to remove a reporter and a photographer, both representing the Watertown Daily Times, from the scene, saying that the site of the wreck was on private property and refused access by the news media, telling them that a news release would be issued later.
A Jefferson County Sheriff’s Dept. Deputy later attempted to divert attention from the speed issue by calling the accident a “weird coincidence”, claiming that “the speed of the train had nothing to do with the accident. It was because the (truck) operator failed to yield the right-of-way,” said Deputy Travis Alcombrack. The deputy also mentioned the existence of a slight curve in the track at the crossing as well as the possibility that “The sun could have had an effect when it’s just breaking the trees, but I can’t know without talking to the driver.”
New York 48th District State Senator Patty Ritchie, in protesting the increased speeds along another upstate CSX rail line, had implored the FRA to “work with village and NYSDOT officials to reduce the speed of CSX trains…before someone is hurt or killed.”