Skip to Main Content
Railroad News

Volunteer Firefighter Seriously Injured at Dangerous, Unguarded Norfolk Southern Crossing

By Pottroff & Karlin LLC |

(Kinston, North Carolina – June 10, 2014)

A 16-year-old sophomore student at LaGrange, NC  North Lenoir High School was seriously injured and had to be extricated from the wreckage of his pickup truck after it was heavily damaged from being struck by a westbound Norfolk Southern freight train consisting of four locomotives pulling 53 freight cars at the dangerous and unguarded crossing of the Blizzard Building Supply Co. in Kinston, NC at about 11:30 A.M., EDT, Tuesday morning.

Riley Sasser, who also serves as a junior firefighter with the Hugo Volunteer Fire Dept., was first taken to Lenoir Memorial Hospital in Kinston, but was then transferred via helicopter to the Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, NC, where his condition was not released, even though officials at the scene said he appeared to be seriously injured.

The boy’s southbound truck approached the crossing, which has no active, automatic protective devices such as flashing lights, bells or crossing gates, was struck and knocked down a 20-foot-deep embankment, where it landed upside-down. The victim had to be cut out of the truck’s cab.

It is virtually certain that lights and gates would have prevented this incident. Both Norfolk Southern and Operation Lifesaver know 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 NS crossing accommodates a daily average of four freight trains at a maximum-allowed speed of 30 mph, according to Federal Railroad Administration records.


Railroad News


Train crash cases are unique and complex with many different potential pitfalls, such as federal preemption. Anytime I get hired or even get a call from a train crash victim, my very first call is to Nathan’s firm. Nathan’s knowledge and experience in handling and trying cases against these litigation savvy railroad companies gives me the confidence to know that the clients and cases I refer to him are getting the best of the best.

James Perrin Lubbock, Texas

I have had the opportunity to work as co-counsel with Nathan on several railroad crossing accidents cases. In each case, Nathan always possessed an incredible knowledge of the law and the facts, possessed a great talent for aggressive - strategic legal planning and trial tactics while, at the same time, displaying great skill as an effective negotiator. I would recommend him to anyone without hesitation.

Scott McCluen Harriman, Tennessee

Nathan Karlin has my strongest endorsement in the field of railroad crossing cases and personal injury law. I had the pleasure of working with Nathan in a complex railroad personal injury case. I was impressed by Nathan’s knowledge, his work ethic, and his dedication to the client. I look forward to working with Nathan on future injury matters. I am also aware firsthand that he has obtained excellent trial and settlement results in numerous cases involving members of the public harmed by railroad companies.

Joseph M. Miller Mandeville, Louisiana

Nathan is a warrior fighting the railroads. As a fellow personal injury lawyer, I have constantly been impressed with his depth of knowledge and his capabilities from case to case. I’d take him into battle with me any day against the biggest railroads and insurance companies on the planet.

Jon C. Clark Austin, Texas

Bob Pottroff has fought for the victims of the railroads’ callous disregard for safety more than any other attorney that I know. I should know because I am currently Chair-elect of the Railroad Section of ATLA.

Robert Schuetze Boulder, Colorado

Mr. Pottroff has shaken the rail industry to its very roots. Settlements are now more common as a result of the way he has exposed the industry’s wrongdoing.

Mike Easley Arkansas

Bob Pottroff’s work in railroad safety law is unmatched and he has been the source of great advice and phenomenal creativity.

Roger Brown Jefferson City, Missouri

In addition to his substantive contributions to railroad grade crossing safety, I have personally observed his untiring efforts and contributions to improving the integrity of the legal system.

Elizabeth Hardy Lake Charles, Louisiana

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8