(Leesburg, Georgia – October 14, 2014)
Rain and a train both possibly contributed to a near-fatal accident last Tuesday morning at about 6:45 A.M., EDT, when a woman driving west toward U.S. Highway 19 on Oakhill Dairy Road was struck by a Norfolk Southern freight train at the dangerous, unguarded crossing of NS railroad tracks and Oakhill Dairy Road (CR 151) just north of Leesburg, GA.
The victim, who authorities did not immediately identify by name, was hit by the train near the rear section of her car, heavily damaging it.
The driver never saw or was unaware of the train as the accident occurred at a highway/rail intersection that is not equipped with active protection, such as flashing lights and gates. It is virtually certain that if equipped with lights and gates this accident would not have happened. Both Norfolk Southern 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%.
Norfolk Southern trains are authorized to operate at a top speed of 50 mph over the Oakhill Dairy Road crossing. Officials said heavy rains in the area may have contributed to the accident, but that factor would have been lessened had the crossing been equipped with properly-operating lights and gates.