(Pegram, Tennessee – June 14, 2014)
Five teenage boys, returning from a swimming trip at a nearby rock quarry, received various, serious injuries late Saturday afternoon at about 6:15 PM, when their car was struck, dragged about 30 yards, and overturned by a CSX freight train at the non-gated crossing of CSX railroad tracks and McCrory Lane in the Nashville suburb of Pegram, TN in Davidson County.
Witnesses disagreed as to whether the car stopped too close to the tracks or if the driver saw the train too late to stop and tried to cross before it, but authorities credited the lack of fatal injuries to the fact all five were wearing seatbelts. The crossing had flashing lights but no crossing gates, and halts at the intersection of Highway 70 and McCrory Lane, barely a car’s length beyond the crossing.
Police did not identify the youths, but the father of one, Ken Renner, said his son, Harrison Renner, received a serious concussion, bruised ribs and a bruised lung, while other occupants of the vehicle suffered from broken bones, scrapes, bruises and abrasions. Emergency responders had to cut one of the victims out of the car’s wreckage.
All five victims were rushed to Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville, TN for treatment and admission.
One witness, Carmen Beasley, who was among several who attempted to assist the injured until fire fighters and paramedics arrived, told news media that “It was a horrific scene. Thank God, they were all alive. We talked to them, we kept talking so that they wouldn’t go into shock,” she said, adding that “You just do what you’ve got to do. It’s human nature.”
According to the Federal Railroad Administration, the CSX rail line that McCrory Lane crosses sees a daily average of nine trains that travel at a maximum speed of 50 mph. Nashville television station KKRN Channel 2 said that according to their files “This was the second time a wreck involving a train has happened at this exact location in the past three months. The first crash happened in late March when a vehicle was struck by a CSX train. The driver survived the accident.”
The FRA, meanwhile, revealed that not only was Saturday’s accident the seventh to occur at the crossing, but that, even though there have been no fatalities, nine drivers and their passengers have now been injured there.
It is virtually certain that the addition of gates would have prevented this incident and the many more injuries that have occurred before it. 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%.