(Walton, Kentucky – October 3, 2014)
The driver of a semi-trailer dump truck suffered what authorities described as “life-threatening injuries” when his rig was hit by a Norfolk Southern freight train at the non-gated crossing of Chambers Drive near Walton, KY at about 3:10 P.M. EDT Friday. The driver, Steven Hess, 52, of Williamstown, KY, later succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead at St. Elizabeth Hospital after an attempt to transfer him to another hospital via air failed on account of bad weather.
Hess was traveling on Old Lexington Pike and made a left onto Chambers, where he encountered the train which struck his rig on the passenger side and overturned it onto a trackside embankment.
Even though this was the fifth accident and first fatality, with five non-fatal injuries resultant from them at the NS/Chambers Drive crossing where, according to Federal Railroad Administration documents, a total of 70 NS trains cross the single track intersection at speeds as high as 60 mph daily, the crossing lacks gates, which add an important attention grabbing level of safety to the intersection’s safety and collision-prevention package. The crossing’s lights and bells were reportedly functioning properly.
“In my 14 year career, this is only the second train crash I’ve seen, but it is definitely the most violent crash I’ve ever seen,” remarked Boone County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Chris Hall to Fox TV Channel 19 Reporter Courtney Danser.
One of the train’s crew members was also taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Inclement weather may also have been a factor in the accident, which occurred at a narrow roadway which terminates into a main artery (Dixie Highway) just south of the crossing, as the victim was first taken to St. Elizabeth Hospital, but doctors there, upon seeing the severity of his injuries, ordered a helicopter transfer to the University of Cincinnati. However, upon requesting an AirCare helicopter, officials learned that the severe weather would make the air transfer impossible, and the victim passed away from his injuries.