(Knoxville, Tennessee – September 1, 2012)
The absence of a Norfolk Southern grade crossing protective system didn’t stop police from ticketing a hospitalized truck driver for failing to observe it Saturday afternoon at the NSRR/Boyd’s Bridge Road crossing in west Knox County, TN, just outside of Knoxville, after a NS freight train hit and heavily damaged the truck, owned by Ryder Rental.
Both driver Tony Ogle, Jr., 22, and passenger Thomas Fleeman, 25, both of Knoxville, TN, were transported to and admitted at Parkwest Hospital for treatment of non-life threatening, but otherwise unspecified, injuries suffered in the crash.
Although the crossing, which accommodates 20 NS trains daily at top speeds of 55 mph, and serves as the only access to and egress from a small subdivision of homes, has no active warning devices like flashing lights, bells or crossing gates, and is equipped only with a pair of standard, passive railroad crossbuck signs, zealous Knox County Sheriff’s Dept. officers ticketed the driver for “failure to obey a signal of a train approach”. Railroad industry-generated statistics show that 90% of vehicular/train crossing accidents could be prevented by the addition of active protective devices.
Further suspicious speculation was added to news reports as “Officials said alcohol was not a factor in the crash”.