(Lenox, Georgia – May 11, 2012)
Two adults and four children, traveling west in a PT Cruiser and crossing Norfolk Southern railroad tracks at the dangerous, unguarded College Street /NS intersection, were struck by a southbound NS freight train and dragged 300 yards down the tracks and across three other street crossings in Lenox, GA Friday about noon, resulting in death for one adult, the driver, and one of the children, leaving the four other occupants seriously injured. The train struck the driver’s side and it was believed both fatalities were seated on that side of the vehicle.
Dead were the uncle of the children, Keon Edwards Blackman, 21, who was visiting from Miami, FL, and Lazavious Blackman, 5. The uncle had planned to take the children back to Miami to visit their father, Ladarius Blackman. Seriously injured were the mother, Princess Gamble, Lamar Gamble, 7, a first grader, Lavarius Blackman, 6, a kindergartner, and Ladarious Blackman, 4, a pre-schooler.
Even though nearly two dozen trains traverse the College Street crossing of NS tracks at train speeds of up to 60 mph, the intersection has no automatic (flashing lights, bells or gates) protection, relying simply upon passive signage (railroad crossbucks and stop signs) to prevent tragedies of Friday’s magnitude.
Most of the family members were identified as residents of Cook County, GA, and the four injured parties were taken to hospitals in Macon, Tifton and Valdosta, GA before being transferred to other medical facilities for treatment of massive injuries. The children’s mother was being treated in Macon, while two of the three surviving children were sent to Egleston Children’s Hospital in Atlanta.
Cook County Coroner Ronald Lipsey said that autopsies for the two deceased victims would be performed Monday in Macon, GA.
The Georgia State Patrol Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team is investigating the accident with assistance from railroad safety inspectors and the Cook County Sheriff’s Office.