(Appomattox, Virginia – March 8, 2018)
A 20-year-old Amherst County, VA woman was critically injured in an early Thursday morning collision with a Norfolk Southern freight train at a dangerous and unguarded private farm crossing midway between Appomattox and Spout Springs, VA. The driver was transported to the University of Virginia Hospital in Charlottesville in critical condition with what were being termed as “life-threatening injuries.”
Goldie Jones was trying to turn her 2005 Mitsubishi SUV at 5:19 A.M., EST on the unguarded crossing when her car was struck on the driver’s side, “violently spun”, overturned and demolished by the westbound train. The train consisted of three locomotives powering 16 freight cars loaded with general merchandise. The collision train was one of a daily average of 27 NS trains that roll across the crossing at a maximum allowable speed of 60 mph.
The victim, who was thrown from her vehicle due to the force of the collision, was first transported to Lynchburg General Hospital before being airlifted to the UVA facility.
The crossing was not equipped with any active warning devices, such as lights and gates, to warn her or other motorists of oncoming trains. Lynchburg’s The News &Advance Reporter Richard Chumney also observed that “Visibility along the private road may have been limited during the crash since it occurred more than an hour before sunrise in an area without street lights.”
It is virtually certain that this collision would not have occurred if the crossing was equipped with active warning devices. Both the Norfolk Southern 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 accidents by as much as 96%.
The newspaper also said that, according to Appomattox County Emergency Services Coordinator Bobby Wingfield, “This is the second time in five years a train has collided with a vehicle at a private crossing” in the county.