Skip to Main Content
Railroad News

Tragic Deaths At Notorious Non-Gated Crossing Instigate Lip Service, No Real Change

By Pottroff & Karlin LLC |

(Warner Robins, Georgia – May 31, 2012)

When – or if – the deadly Norfolk Southern railroad crossing of Ignico Drive in Warner Robins, GA will get crossing gates obviously depends upon whom you ask, but one thing is for sure: the numbers (17 accidents, eight injuries and four deaths) are obviously insufficient to warrant expedited action by the Georgia DOT or the Norfolk Southern Railway.

The tragic deaths Sunday afternoon of a young mother and her one-month-old infant and the serious injury of the baby’s father stirred up a lot of public concern and media inquiries, but received the same reply from GDOT as had been given nearly a year (July, 2011) ago: a gate will be installed in 12 to 14 months.

Now following Sunday evening’s tragedy, GDOT is offering the same answer: the crossing should have gates installed and operating by the end of next year. Why the promise of 12 to 14 months lay stagnant while more innocent lives were lost is anybody’s guess, because 14 months from last July would be this coming September, 2012.

And, in their usual fashion, there will be no expedited installation schedule because, as NS Director of Public Relations Susan Terpay explains “Norfolk Southern installs the safety arms and maintains them, but it’s up to the Georgia Department of Transportation to decide where they go.”

After initially ducking media inquiries, GDOT finally answered Wednesday, saying that “The crossings are ranked using the ‘Hazard Index’, which looks at train and traffic volumes, existing warning devices, number of passenger trains, school bus crossings, and number of accidents. Other factors such as sight distance, train speed and geometry of the roadway at the crossing are considered.”

GDOT estimates the cost of the addition of crossing gates to the already existent flashing lights and bells will be between $200,000 and $350,000 as well as claiming the Ignico Drive/NS crossing is “on their high-priority list and in line to get crossing arms.”

But promises and priority lists mean little to Pamela Patten, a civilian worker at the Robins Air Force Base, who is conducting her own, personal campaign to get gates at the deadly crossing. Patten says she is contacting state and railroad officials in an effort to get a gate at the crossing, but as of Thursday was still awaiting response from either entity.

“When you see a baby whose life is taken away, it’s just heartbreaking,” attests Patten to Macon Telegraph Staff Writer Wayne Crenshaw.

And in support of the statement of a Houston County Sheriff’s officer who responded to Sunday’s tragedy that he “couldn’t hear the train warning in his car at the site” of the fatal crash, Patten further said that she and a friend had been crossing the tracks at the same location two days prior to the tragedy, and experienced a near collision herself. She looked to the right and saw a train coming which “was close enough to scare me. When your windows are up, you don’t hear it.”

Perhaps the public, like Patten, and the press should not feel slighted in being stonewalled by GDOT, as State Representative Larry O’Neal (R-Warner- Robins) could get no reply from the agency Thursday when he called, inquiring into the same subject.


Railroad News


Train crash cases are unique and complex with many different potential pitfalls, such as federal preemption. Anytime I get hired or even get a call from a train crash victim, my very first call is to Nathan’s firm. Nathan’s knowledge and experience in handling and trying cases against these litigation savvy railroad companies gives me the confidence to know that the clients and cases I refer to him are getting the best of the best.

James Perrin Lubbock, Texas

I have had the opportunity to work as co-counsel with Nathan on several railroad crossing accidents cases. In each case, Nathan always possessed an incredible knowledge of the law and the facts, possessed a great talent for aggressive - strategic legal planning and trial tactics while, at the same time, displaying great skill as an effective negotiator. I would recommend him to anyone without hesitation.

Scott McCluen Harriman, Tennessee

Nathan Karlin has my strongest endorsement in the field of railroad crossing cases and personal injury law. I had the pleasure of working with Nathan in a complex railroad personal injury case. I was impressed by Nathan’s knowledge, his work ethic, and his dedication to the client. I look forward to working with Nathan on future injury matters. I am also aware firsthand that he has obtained excellent trial and settlement results in numerous cases involving members of the public harmed by railroad companies.

Joseph M. Miller Mandeville, Louisiana

Nathan is a warrior fighting the railroads. As a fellow personal injury lawyer, I have constantly been impressed with his depth of knowledge and his capabilities from case to case. I’d take him into battle with me any day against the biggest railroads and insurance companies on the planet.

Jon C. Clark Austin, Texas

Bob Pottroff has fought for the victims of the railroads’ callous disregard for safety more than any other attorney that I know. I should know because I am currently Chair-elect of the Railroad Section of ATLA.

Robert Schuetze Boulder, Colorado

Mr. Pottroff has shaken the rail industry to its very roots. Settlements are now more common as a result of the way he has exposed the industry’s wrongdoing.

Mike Easley Arkansas

Bob Pottroff’s work in railroad safety law is unmatched and he has been the source of great advice and phenomenal creativity.

Roger Brown Jefferson City, Missouri

In addition to his substantive contributions to railroad grade crossing safety, I have personally observed his untiring efforts and contributions to improving the integrity of the legal system.

Elizabeth Hardy Lake Charles, Louisiana

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8