(Birmingham, Alabama – March 28, 2018)
Following the lead of her three older sisters, a 7-year-old Alabama girl was severely injured after being run over and dragged by a freight train in the Collegeville area of Birmingham Wednesday evening between 7:30 and 7:45 P.M. Little Curteria Thomas allegedly followed her three sisters and possibly a fourth girl through a large hole in a BNSF security fence intended for guarding against access to a single track BNSF rail line that carries a daily average of 34 BNSF and Norfolk Southern trains. The girls were crawling under a stopped freight train when it suddenly lurched forward, entrapping and dragging the second grader by her right foot. The victim was transported to Children’s of Alabama Hospital following the incident.
News media film footage of the area shows a well-worn pathway to the gaping fence hole that was obviously frequented by many members of the public in an area where Birmingham Police estimate as many as 50 children reside.
The girls’ mother, Shequilia Galloway, was preparing supper when she heard the commotion, and ran, in her bare feet, through the hole and to the train dragging her daughter. Fortunately for her, a neighbor she knew only as “Mr. Mann”, also responded to the situation, ran past the frantic mother, and ripped the helpless victim from the clutches of the moving train. However, the youngster’s right foot and a portion of her lower right leg had already been partially severed.
Although severely injured, the little victim attempted to calm her sobbing mother with words of hope: “Mommy, stop crying. God’s got me.”
Fortunately, officers of the Birmingham PD’s High Intensity Community Oriented Policing (HICOP) task force were performing regular patrol duties only a block away from the tragic scene and, alerted by the loud screams, responded in seconds to give aid to the victim and comfort the distraught mother.
In a gallant attempt to offer support to and lift the spirits of Curteria and her family, three members of the HICOP group visited and brought gifts to the tiny casualty in her hospital room Thursday, according to Reporter Carol Robinson of the Alabama Media Group.
BPD Officer Joseph Hassell, who had been among the officers giving aid at the scene the day before, told Robinson that “We know the child’s life is going to change forever and we just wanted to help make it smoother.”
Meanwhile, Shequilia Galloway told Birmingham WBRC-TV Reporter Melanie Posey that she hoped the tragedy would spur community action intended to help both her daughter and others who were affected to demand either the removal of the trains, or, if not, ”then better monitoring of the fence.”