(Crimora, Virginia – January 29, 2020)
A 50-year-old Crimora, VA man died at about 2:43 PM, EST Wednesday when he was struck by a northbound Norfolk Southern freight train. The motorist was operating a Bobcat-style excavator across the dangerous and unguarded Norfolk Southern Railroad crossing of Haywood Drive near the 3B Grocery between Crimora and Grottoes, VA when the collision occurred.
The victim, a local man named Jeffrey Scott East and his machine, categorized as a “skid steer” or “skid loader”, were thrown about 60 feet from the impact on the gravel-surfaced road that led to property owned by the deceased.
The deadly tragedy was the third collision and first fatality to be suffered at the crossing. The two earlier accidents resulted in injuries. Haywood Drive has neither crossing gates nor flashing lights, devices which likely would have prevented both Wednesday’s fatality and the two earlier collisions as well. In addition, as a crossing designated as “private.” As such, there are no Federal Railroad Administration statutes that require train personnel to sound a warning from their horn, and therefore it was not known when or if the locomotive’s horn was activated.
The Haywood Drive crossing sees the passage of nine NS trains at a maximum allowable speed of 50 mph on an average day.
Virginia State Police troopers and Augusta County Sheriff’s Office personnel were investigating the tragic collision.