(New Kent County, Virginia – June 24, 2021)
A local motorist driving a white pick-up truck was killed with multiple others sustained serious, life-threatening injuries last Thursday afternoon in New Kent County, Virginia collision. The collision occurred when their pickup truck was struck by a high-speed Amtrak train at the dangerous, unguarded, and private CSX railroad crossing. According to reports, at least one individual was life-flighted to a local hospital with serious injuries.
The crossing where this collision occurred does not have any active warning devices, such as lights and gates. According to local residents, this crossing is problematic and unsafe because of the speed of trains, inconsistent blowing of the train horn, and sight obstructions. One local resident, Kevin Menius, told local reporters, “You can’t see very far down the tracks where the stop sign is. I didn’t see anything and went through. I got maybe 100 feet past the track and a train flew by. That’s the closest I’ve ever gotten to getting hit by a train. it scared me.”
The crossing is categorized as a private crossing because it only provides access to the Rockahock Campgrounds. The owner of the Rockahock campgrounds told local reporters that CSX won’t put gates at the intersection because it is a private road. He also said that CSX agreed to go slower on the track and lay on the horn, but that hasn’t happened.
According to CSX submitted information, a daily average of 14 trains traverse this crossing at speeds up to 79 miles per hour. CSX’s refusal to install crossing lights, gates, or any type of active warning devices is even more troubling considering the sheer number of collisions at this crossing. This collision marks the ninth crash at this crossing. The most recent before last week occurring just a couple years ago.
For this collision it is still not yet known if the Amtrak train timely blew the horn before this collision. Regardless of whether the horn was blown or not, the lack of active warning devices clearly played a role in contributing to cause this most recent tragedy. It is virtually certain that if CSX would have installed lights and gates, this collision and the eight before it could have been prevented. CSX, Amtrak, 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 collisions by as much as 96%.
Virginia state police and New Kent County Sheriff’s Office are investigating this collision.