(Brunswick, Georgia – March 1, 2016)
College of Coastal Georgia freshman student Will Duckworth was seriously injured Tuesday night at about 10:00P.M., EST. His pickup truck was struck and heavily damaged by an unseen CSX freight train after he stopped at passive railroad cross-buck and highway “stop” signs placed at the dangerous and otherwise unguarded crossing of Perry Lane Road and CSX railroad tracks in Brunswick, GA, looked for any approaching train and then, neither seeing nor hearing any, proceeded across the road/rail intersection.
“I didn’t see anything or hear anything,” the 19-year-old Duckworth told Brunswick News Reporter Larry Hobbs. “I completely stopped and I looked. And I didn’t see anything.”
The newspaper writer noted in his first of two articles regarding the near-tragedy that “The tracks cross Perry Lane Road at such a sharp angle that drivers have to look back after stopping to see approaching trains.”
“When you stop there to look left, and you have to almost turn your head completely around to see down the railroad track”, driver Duckworth continued. “And it’s so dark you can’t tell the railroad goes that way.”
“He called me screaming, ‘Momma, I’ve been hit by a train’, recalled a frantic LeAnn Duckworth as she recounted the details of a near-tragedy which set her on a Facebook-driven path she described to the Brunswick News by saying “We just want to find out what we have to do to get the railroad arms there, because if we don’t, someone’s going to get hurt there!”
Mrs. Duckworth knew what she was talking about. According to Federal Railroad Administration documentation, her son’s injury was neither the first, nor was the collision at the crossing. According to FRA records, a daily average of two CSX trains traveling at speeds of 40 mph and cross paths with an average daily highway vehicular count in excess of 3,500, which include nine daily school bus runs.
Three collisions between CSX trains and motor vehicles, one of which, on February 26, 2014, resulted in another injury, preceded the Tuesday night collision. Crashes in 2001 and 1990 occurred without any injuries suffered, but not without vehicular damage.
“We’ve got more and more people coming out of the woodwork to say they nearly got hit there,” LeAnn said of public response to her Facebook campaign.
In News Writer Hobbs’ later follow-up article, he reported that “Glynn County Commissioner Michael Browning said Thursday a traffic study is in order to determine if an electronic gate is warranted there. “
Admitting familiarity with the crossing in question, Commissioner Browning told Reporter Hobbs that “I’ve experienced that crossing many more times than that young man has, but this is a wake-up call.”
“We need to take a look at that, see if it’s warranted,” he continued, adding his observation “That is a bad crossing because it’s dark out there, and plus, there’s the angle of approach of the track.”
“I think this (the accident-resultant Facebook effort) might have brought it to our attention that there’s a dangerous intersection out there and we’re going to take a look at it,” the county commissioner concluded.