(Knoxville, Tennessee – April 11, 2014)
A Knox County, TN woman is dead and her husband seriously injured after their 2013 Chevrolet Equinox collided with a CSX freight train as it came around what nearby residents describe as a “blind curve” early Friday afternoon at the non-gated crossing of Ball Camp Road and CSX railroad tracks just northwest of Knoxville, TN.
According to witnesses, the couple, Teresa Davis, 52, who was pronounced dead at the scene, and Jack Davis, 58, who was being treated for unspecified injuries at the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville, lived just beyond the crossing, which has flashing lights and bells but no crossing gates to help prevent tragedies such as occurred Friday just after noon.
Numerous residents placed blame upon the crossing’s lack of gates. It is virtually certain that lights and gates would have prevented this incident. Both CSX 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%.
An unnamed respondent to the TV station said that he has “gone through this intersection thousands of times,” and that “It needs crossing arms and a stop sign for westbound traffic.”
Another proponent for better crossing signals was WWST-FM Star 102.1 Radio Disk Jockey Marc Anthony, who lives near and knows the victims well. “Their son went to school with my kids, and it’s just a terrible tragedy, so sad,” he lamented. “They were really sweet, nice people and it’s just a terrible tragedy,” he continued.
Robert Palmer, who also lives near the ill-fated crossing which, according to Federal Railroad Administration records, had a non-injury accident November 22, 2010, said that “It amazes me that there hasn’t been more wrecks down there.”
“If they put the warning up far enough ahead, maybe that will give people enough time to stop before they get to the tracks,” continued Palmer. “I understand there has not been a fatality there before, hence they don’t have any gates, per se. I don’t know if this is going to change that, but you know they need them,” he concluded.
According to FRA statistics, the crossing is used by an average of 13 CSX trains daily at a top allowable train speed of 40 mph. Well over 4,000 highway vehicles, including a half-dozen school buses, cross CSX railroad tracks at that location.