(Spartanburg County, South Carolina – December 9, 2015)
An unwarned dump truck driver lost his life at the dangerous and unguarded crossing of Mount Calvary Church Road and Norfolk Southern railroad tracks in rural Spartanburg County, SC just after noon Wednesday when a southbound NS freight train hauling only two cars slammed into the 2016 Peterbilt dump truck. The driver was backing eastbound on Mount Calvary Church Road while delivering asphalt for a road paving project.
Andrew Burgess, 65, of Belton, SC, an employee of Ashmore Brothers Construction, was pronounced dead by Spartanburg County Coroner Rusty Clevenger after the 12:08 P.M., EST tragedy.
The public intersection of Mount Calvary Church Road and the NS Railway, whose tracks parallel South Carolina Highway 295 within only a few feet of the crossing, was the site of an October 10, 2011 car/train collision which resulted in serious injuries for three occupants of the auto, and accommodates a daily average of eight freight trains daily at a top allowable speed of 45 mph, according to data provided by the Federal Railroad Administration.
Burgess clearly had no warning of the approaching train, as the fatal crossing of NS railroad tracks and Mount Calvary Church Road has no active signal protection like flashing lights and crossing gates. It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with lights and gates, this accident would not have happened. Both Norfolk Southern and Operation Lifesaver know that 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%.