(Birdsboro, Pennsylvania January 16, 2017)
At approximately 8:45 a.m. EST, the driver of a semi-trailer truck loaded with animal feed was struck and the semi split in half by a pair of Norfolk Southern locomotives near State Route 724 in Cumru Township, Berks County, PA.
Eyewitness Constance Murphy said that she was surprised to see he (the driver, Cory Teaford, 21, of Pottstown, PA) was even alive from her vantage point three cars back from the crossing where the collision took place. Ive never seen anything like that, she continued.
Teaford, who was transported via ground ambulance to Reading Hospital for what were described as head injuries, was hauling 50-lb bags of animal feed for his employer, Browns Feeds, and the collision kept area roads closed for seven hours as the bags of feed were collected and spilled diesel fuel was abated.
The crossing, which fails to show up on the Federal Railroad Administrations railroad crossing inventory, sees a daily average of a dozen Norfolk Southern trains daily at a maximum allowable speed of 30 mph. It is equipped with flashing signals, but law enforcement official Sgt. Scott Bechtel said that the driver of the westbound truck apparently, didnt see the lights or the approaching southbound train.
Both WFMZ and The Reading Eagle pointed out that the crossing doesnt have gates that lower when a train approaches. Both Norfolk Southern and Operation Lifesaver know that lights and gates are the most effective type of protection at railroad crossings. Studies conducted over fifty years ago confirm that the addition of automatic gates to a flashing light only crossing reduces accidents by up to two-thirds.