(Brownsville, Tennessee – December 11, 2013)
Another life was lost Wednesday afternoon at about 2:45 P.M. when a 23-year-old motorist driving a 1995 Toyota Corolla was killed in a collision with a short CSX freight train as he attempted to cross CSX railroad tracks at the dangerous, unguarded intersection with Sugar Creek Road near Brownsville, TN.
Tyler Stroder, from Covington, TN was driving south on Sugar Creek when he was struck by the six-car westbound freight train being pulled by a single locomotive.
Tennessee Highway Patrol Sgt. William Futrell reported that “He was wearing his seat belt, but we don’t believe it would have made a difference” due to the brute force of the train, one of six that travel through that CSX rail corridor daily at a top permissible speed of 49 mph.
The Sugar Creek Road/CSX crossing has now been the site of four car/train accidents, but Wednesday’s marked the first fatality suffered there. The crossing has only passive railroad cross-buck and highway “yield” signs, neither of which can possibly give any warning of oncoming trains to motorists. Only active devices such as flashing lights, bells and crossing gates, when operating properly, can give the driving public any kind of forewarning of approaching trains.
It is virtually certain that lights and gates would have prevented this incident. Both CSX 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%.
CSX officials who responded to the scene stayed in the background until public law enforcement officers had wrapped up their investigation and authorized the train to proceed on its way. When questioned by the media, CSX Paris, TN-based official Clay Bradham said “I don’t know any details.”
But Miguel Castro, who has lived with his family adjacent to the railroad crossing for the past dozen years, had plenty of observations to share with Staff Writer David Thomas of The Jackson Sun. “We were having dinner, and I stepped outside after I heard the sirens,” recalled Castro. He felt the noise of the train itself probably drowned out the sound of the crash. “No, I didn’t hear the impact, but I’m in shock. This accident is so close to our house.”
“We’ve had close calls,” Castro added, “But this is mind-blowing, seeing something like this.”