(Ashland, Kentucky – August 12, 2013)
Two Ashland, KY residents became the fourth and fifth victims of a notorious private crossing serving the Mansbach Metal recycling center in the far eastern Kentucky community of Ashland Monday morning when the crossing, which sees an average daily train count of 39 trains, including Amtrak, recorded its 18th collision between a highway vehicle and a train.
Tommy Fletcher was driving the truck with Brandi Parson in the passenger seat when the train struck the vehicle, sending both victims to St. Mary’s Medical Center, just across the Ohio River in Huntington, WV, where both were admitted in stable condition.
The private crossing of 19th Street and CSX rails, unlike many private roadway/railway intersections, has been equipped with three pair of flashing light signals throughout its history, which has seen a total of 18 such collisions between various types of highway vehicles and CSX or Amtrak trains since the establishment of the Federal railroad oversight agency in the early 1970’s. The fact that train speeds through the area are limited to a maximum of 40 mph as well as the infrequent installation of any form of crossing protection have undoubtedly been factors in the fact that only a total of five people have been injured, none of them fatally, in the 18 accidents.
Federal requirements do not dictate signs, signals or even the sounding of train horns at private crossings like the 19th Street/CSX crossings, and neither state nor federal funding is ever utilized in protecting the driving public at private intersections.
The vehicle, a white pickup truck, received heavy damage when the CSX freight train struck the driver’s side of the vehicle.