(Philadelphia, Tennessee – December 17, 2023)
A 36-year-old resident of Philadelphia, Tennessee was killed after his 2011 Ford Taurus was struck by a Norfolk Southern freight train. According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the Ford driver was identified as Miguel Angel Lopez Zavala. Mr. Zavala was traveling east on Highway 11 when he was struck by the northbound Norfolk Southern train.
The crash occurred near the entrance to Sweetwater Valley Farm just off Highway 11. The crossing where this collision occurred is not equipped with any active warning devices, such as lights and gates. Also, Norfolk Southern identified this crossing as a private. As such, it is unclear at this time whether the Norfolk Southern freight train blew the horn as it approached this crossing. Norfolk Southern and Operation Lifesaver know that the installation of lights and gates at these unprotected crossings saves lives. It is virtually certain that the addition of lights and gates could have prevented this tragedy. 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 collisions by as much as 96%.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol is still investigating this collision.