(Smiths Station, Alabama – January 31, 2013)
A motorist and his passenger were both injured Thursday morning about 10:30 A.M. when they tried to drive their Chevrolet Monte Carlo across Norfolk Southern railroad tracks at the dangerous, unguarded crossing of a connector road in Smiths Station, AL.
The men, ages 49 and 68 and both from Smiths Station, were both taken to Columbus Regional Hospital in Columbus, GA for evaluation of undetermined injuries.
The driver was crossing between Lee County Road 243 and Lee County Road 430, each of which parallel NS railroad tracks on opposite sides through Smiths Station, when he saw the train too late, stopped and attempted to back up, only to have the train strike the front passenger’s side of the vehicle.
The connector road crossing of NS tracks has no active protective systems such as flashing lights, bells or crossing gates, items which railroad sources have claimed could prevent in the area of 90% of railroad grade crossing accidents. Instead, the crossing is “protected” only by stop signs and has no standard railroad crossbuck signs, either. A half-dozen trains run through the Smths Station corridor daily at top allowable speeds of 50 mph.
Lee County Sheriff’s Office officers, Alabama State Highway Patrol troopers and Norfolk Southern railroad police investigated the accident.