(Montgomery, Alabama – April 4, 2014)
A 52-year-old local resident lost his life Friday morning at about 10:15 A.M. when the silver 2010 Nissan Altima he was driving collided with a CSX freight train at the non-gated crossing of CSX railroad tracks and Wares Ferry Road in Montgomery, AL.
Russell Burnside, the lone occupant of the vehicle, was pronounced dead at the scene. Alabama State Highway Patrol Sgt. Steve Jarrett noted acknowledged that there are no crossing arms at the location where the tragedy occurred, and that the incident was far from the first that has occurred at that crossing.
According to Federal Railroad Administration statistics, Friday’s accident was the fourth to occur there, but the first resulting in a fatality. The other three resulted in a total of four non-fatal injuries at the crossing which sees a daily average of 11 trains which can operate at a maximum speed of 50 mph, and a daily average of 8,370 vehicles, including a half dozen school buses.
As previously mentioned, this crossing did not have crossing gates. It is virtually certain that lights and gates would have prevented this incident. Both Norfolk Southern and Operation Lifesaver know 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%.
A number of agencies, including the Montgomery Police Dept., Montgomery County Sheriff’s Dept. and Alabama State Troopers, responded to the accident, but CSX personnel were “on site and conducting their own in-house investigation.”