(Bay St. Louis, Mississippi – July 14, 2012)
Reg Morken of Bay St. Louis, MS has lived near the crossing of CSX Railroad tracks and Toulme Street for the past dozen years. During which time he has seen several crossing accidents, the latest occurring just Saturday morning.
“I looked out and saw the tail end of this truck about 20 feet in the air and told my wife to call 911,” recalled Morken. “These people are very lucky.”
Indeed, Kenneth and Deborah Kennedy, both 52, of Waveland, MS were lucky to be alive, although injured, after their pickup truck was struck by an eastbound CSX freight train at the South Toulme Street crossing. The dangerous, unguarded crossing, “protected” only by standard, passive railroad crossbuck and highway “stop” signage, has experienced nine accidents since the Federal Railroad Administration began counting them in the 1970’s, but railroad and government authorities have never seen the necessity to place automatic protection, such as flashing lights, bells and gates at the intersection.
Deputy Police Chief Christine Johnson of the Bay St. Louis Police Dept. said the driver may have tried to back off the tracks when he saw the train, one of the 13 train that cross there daily at speeds of up to 13 mph, but he was too late.
Both victims were transported to Memorial Hospital in Gulfport, MS for treatment of undetermined injuries.