(McDonald, Tennessee – January 5, 2015)
Two female pedestrians were struck by a train early Monday morning at about 4:15 A.M. while attempting to cross the single track main line of the Norfolk Southern Railway. The rails pass through the unincorporated community of McDonald, TN and the pedestrians were crossing them at the South McDonald Road crossing with NS rails just north of B Avenue.
Both victims were taken to area hospitals, Erlanger Hospital and Skyridge Medical Center, where Meagan Snyder, 30, was pronounced dead after arrival from her traumatic injuries, and Shana Parker, 37, was admitted for treatment of critical but undisclosed injuries. Both women were residents of Bradley County, and neither was able to physically communicate with first responders at the scene. Therefore, Chief Deputy Brian Smith of the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office had them transported immediately for medical care. No one could say why the women were crossing the tracks there.
However, the early morning tragedy was not without witnesses, as Steve Moody, who has lived near the crossing his entire life, reported that “I just heard the train come to a real fast, screeching halt. When you hear one stop that fast, you know they’ve hit something,” Moody surmised.
Moody went outside his house to the NS track, where he found the train’s conductor walking up and down along the stopped train with a flashlight. Moody said the conductor mentioned “hitting something,” and that “he heard a ‘ka-chunk’ when he ran over it.”
The two badly-hurt women were found some 70 yards from the dangerous and unguarded crossing. One respondent to Chattanooga, TN WTVC-TV. News Channel 9’s story on the tragedy remarked that “I’ve almost been hit at that intersection by (a few) feet in my truck,” said viewer Tyrone Bowers. “It (the crossing) has no crossing rails and the (trains) that run the rails fly by that intersection. I’ve been close to getting hit by seconds,” adding that “They never blow their horns.”
Another McDonald resident, Terri Haygood remarked that “This was so close to where we live and Moody is a good friend. He lives so close to the tracks. Prayers for both families!”
According to railroad and county-supplied records, the crossing sees an average daily count of 70 NS freight trains, which travel at a maximum speed of 60 mph. The crossing is not equipped with any active warning devices, such as lights or gates, which warn both motorists and pedestrians of oncoming trains. Some 1100 vehicles, including two school buses, cross there daily.
Although there have now been three incidents suffered at the crossing, Monday’s was both the first fatality as well as the first non-fatal injury.