(Kathleen, Georgia – August 11, 2012)
A 74-year-old motorist, driving a new 2012 GMC Sierra pickup truck, was injured both physically and psychologically Saturday afternoon at 3:37 P.M. when he crossed the dangerous, unguarded intersection of Norfolk Southern railroad tracks and West Houston Road near the town of Kathleen in Houston County, GA.
Jerry Battle of Warner Robins, GA first stopped and then proceeded across the tracks, protected only by standard, passive railroad crossbuck signs and completely lacking active protective devices such as flashing lights, bells or crossing gates, the existence of which have been statistically proven to be at least 90% effective in preventing such accidents.
The victim’s truck, which he had taken possession of only a week ago, was struck by the NS freight train on the rear, spun around, and turned onto its passenger side. Responding to the accident, Houston County firefighters were forced to cut the truck’s cab open to extricate Battle, who was then taken by ambulance to the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, GA for treatment of bumps, bruises and other injuries which required him to be held overnight for observation.
The train, one of two dozen that cross the West Houston Road intersection daily at speeds up to 50 mph, was estimated to be traveling around 40 mph at the time of impact.
Houston County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Mike Stokes told news media that the West Houston Road/NS crossing was not protected by lights, bells or gates because it is what is known as a “passive crossing”, and that only “active crossings” have gates, bells or lights.
It would be pretty difficult to explain to the victim that the crossing was not “active” and his brand-new GMC truck was still in one piece!