(Chapin, South Carolina – November 9, 2019)
Three South Carolina teens suffered serious injuries after their southbound 2013 Audi SUV was struck by a westbound CSX freight train. The collision occurred at the unguarded railroad crossing of Walter McCartha Road and CSX rails around 9:30 AM, EST Saturday morning. The crossing is located in rural Richland County in the community of Chapin, SC, near Columbia,
The train was one of a daily average of three CSX trains that cross there at a maximum permissible speed of 45 mph.
The railroad crossing was not equipped with any active warning devices, such as lights and gates. News commentators for both WIS-TV and WLTX-TV, two Columbia stations, were quick to mention the absence of flashing lights and crossing gates at the crossing. It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with lights and gates, this collision would not have happened. CSX 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 collisions by as much as 96%.
The most seriously injured teen was airlifted to Prisma Health Hospital in Columbia, while the other two were transported via ground ambulance to the same medical trauma center.
Chapin resident Betsy Black, who has lived near the crossing for more than a decade and , according to WLTX-TV, News 19 in Columbia, said that a past near-miss experience has made her “hesitant to use the crossing.”
Black said she heard the sound of the train and the crash. She responded to the scene in an attempt to help the young victims. She described a scene of entrapped occupants and a united effort to help those hurt in the accident.