(Somerset, Kentucky – March 8, 2017)
A 40-year-old Bronston, KY man was airlifted to The University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, KY, after he was seriously injured in a collision with a Norfolk Southern freight train. The collision occurred at a notorious and unguarded private NS crossing just off Kentucky Highway 2227 near Warner Fertilizer in Somerset, KY Wednesday at about 1:30 P.M.
Russell Roberts was listed in fair condition after his pickup truck was crushed by the NS freight train. The train was one of 70 NS freight trains that cross the private road daily at speeds as high as 60 mph. The crossing completely lacks any form of low-cost warnings or standard active warning devices. It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with low-cost warning devices or standard signals, such as lights and gates, this collision would not have happened. 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%.
Roberts’ collision was the seventh to occur at that particular road/rail intersection since two people were killed and two others seriously injured in 1976. Another fatal collision was suffered in 1987. The most recent accident prior to today’s collision occurred less than two years ago. A 28-year-old man was injured in another accident with a Norfolk Southern train.
The crossing, which has two main tracks and, as WLEX-TV, Channel 18 in Lexington described as being “marked with a stop sign and a warning, but have no crossing arm.” The TV reporter went on to say that “There is no crossing arm because the area is private property with little traffic.” It is also unknown at this time if the train blew its horn as it approached the crossing.
Police officers also said the victim was ejected from the cab of the truck, and was conscious prior to the arrival of the helicopter air ambulance.