(Rogers Gap, Kentucky – April 22, 2015)
An 80-year-old Corinth, KY grandfather who was delivering crushed rock in a dump truck to a Scott County, KY Toyota Motor Manufacturing-Kentucky plant construction site was killed Wednesday afternoon at a dangerous, unguarded and notorious private crossing on the Mark Wells farm near Rogers Gap, KY.
Scott County Sheriff Tony Hampton said that Stanley Hammonds died instantly at 2:35 P.M. as he attempted to drive his loaded dump truck across an elevated Norfolk Southern railroad track which has now been the site of six train/vehicular collisions since 2002 and was struck on the westbound vehicle’s passenger side by a 41-car southbound NS train.
Georgetown News-Graphic News Writer Dan Adkins said “Norfolk Southern officials at the scene refused to speak to reporters.”
Even more traumatic was the arrival of one of the victim’s grandsons, who came to the scene due to the deployment of the Scott County Fire Dept., Georgetown-Scott County Emergency Management Agency and Georgetown-Scott County Emergency Medical Services to the accident site, where Scott Count Coroner John Goble was forced to reveal the victim’s identity to him at the tragic scene.
The crossing, that stands at the apex of a long, winding, ascending road leading to it, is crossed daily, according to the Federal Railroad Administration, by up to 70 Norfolk Southern trains at a maximum allowable speed of 60 mph, has also been the site of two non-fatal injuries, as Wednesday’s tragedy marked the first fatality recorded.
Speaking of the frequency of accidents occurring at the crossing, Sheriff Hampton remarked to Channel 18 News, Lexington, KY, that “It’s not uncommon to have this. Of course, you always hate it when there’s a fatality involved.”
The crossing is not equipped with any active warning devices, such as 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 that 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%.
As the family of the victim was left coping with the tragic loss of a man whom many described as a man who “loved horseback riding and camping with grand kids,” and, although 80 years old, “had the energy and spirit of a 50-year-old”according to Channel LEX18 News.
Those who live near the crossing, among them Della Guynn, remarked to LEX18 that “It’s very sad; Life is very precious, it really is.”
Another resident, Julie McClanahan, told The News-Graphic that she heard a loud noise “like an explosion – I could see a big cloud of dust where it hit.”