Train crash update: Man killed was Norfolk Southern employee
By Megan Brantley
POSTED: 6:23 PM Dec 06 2012
GLADE SPRING, Va. - Crews from Norfolk Southern were cleaning up the debris and repairing the track where a truck was hit by a train Wednesday.
We are told the identity of the truck driver who was killed will not be released until the autopsy results come back, but Thursday they did start to move what is left of the truck after the crash and fire.
Norfolk Southern trains were back on the tracks only 12 hours after a deadly crash involving a tractor-trailer in Glade Spring, Virginia, Wednesday night.
We learned gallons of fuel leaked onto the tracks after the crash, igniting the truck and killing one of the railway workers. "He had just delivered a dump truck on a low-boy flatbed trailer and he had just dropped it off. He was returning when he was crossing the tracks," said Robin Chapman, PR Manager for Norfolk Southern.
Police tell us the train hit the cab of the truck, knocking it to the left side of the tracks. "Our understanding is the train was traveling one direction, which would be towards Chilhowie. The truck was following parallel in the same direction," said Ricky Stumbo, Glade Spring Interim Police Chief.
Mary Blackwell lives just feet from the tracks and says she is concerned about people's safety, especially because there are currently no crossing arms. "I've seen people try to beat the train coming down through here," said Blackwell.
Residents tell us they would love to see a railroad crossing guard at their railroad crossing in hopes to help improve safety and possibly save a life. "People live up there, people come down the track and they just don't stop. They just go right ahead," said Blackwell.
Town Mayor Lee Coburn tells us they will look into the situation. "It's certainly a concern and something we take very seriously," said Coburn.
We checked the area, and two out of the three railroad crossings in Glade Spring have crossing arms.
We find out that currently the town is paying close to $20,000 dollars a year on these crossing arms to maintain and repair them; the additional arms would be an added cost to the town.
However, Mayor Coburn tells us you cannot put a price on safety.
Railroad begins crash cleanup
Posted: Friday, December 7, 2012 9:45 am | Updated: 12:00 pm, Fri Dec 7, 2012.
MICHAEL L. OWENS | BRISTOL HERALD COURIER
Witness describes fatal train-truck collision in Glade Spring
Posted: Thursday, December 6, 2012 12:30 pm | Updated: 10:50 am, Fri Dec 7, 2012.
ALLIE ROBINSON | BRISTOL HERALD COURIER |
Local firefighters work around the scene of a fatal truck-train collision Wednesday near the Glade spring town square. (Photo by Andre Teague/Bristol Herald Courier)
Firefighters look over the burned-out wreckage of a Norfolk Southern maintenance truck that was struck Wednesday by a Norfolk Southern train while crossing at the Boxwood and Hemlock Street railroad crossing in Glade Spring, Va. (Photo by Andre Teague/Bristol Herald Courier)
GLADE SPRING, Va. - First, he heard the train conductor blaring the whistle. Then, he heard a boom. Lastly, a screeching noise that sounded ominous.
The Norfolk Southern train hauling grain and other products screamed to a halt. By the time Junior Hayden turned toward the commotion, a tractor-trailer was in flames.
The driver of that truck, a Norfolk Southern employee who had been moving equipment around the tracks in Glade Spring’s town square, was killed when the engine slammed into the truck. No other injuries were reported.
“I saw the fire on the other side of the train … and saw the hood of the truck and the radiator,” said Hayden, who was a few blocks from the tracks when the wreck happened at 4:45 p.m. Wednesday. A friend he was with called 911.
The truck driver, who was not named late Wednesday, was pulling a flatbed equipment trailer, traveling along Hemlock Street near the tracks, Glade Spring Police Interim Chief Ricky Stumbo said.
“He had stopped in an attempt to cross the narrow railroad crossing,” Stumbo said.
Then the train hit the truck, striking near the cab and causing the fire. Firefighters said they heard several explosions as the flames grew. Stumbo said emergency medical personnel and police were on scene within minutes because they were already in the area. The Glade Spring and Meadowview volunteer fire departments were soon behind them.
The train finally screeched to a halt farther up the track, and did not appear to be affected by the fire, said Theresa Kingsley, deputy director of emergency management for Washington County, Va. She said the train was not carrying anything hazardous. Rail lines throughout the region were stopped to allow time to clear the wreck.
The tractor-trailer leaked fuel, which firefighters worked to mop up throughout the evening. The flatbed had been empty.
Stumbo said in the time he’s worked in the town there hasn’t been a wreck at this particular intersection.
Hayden said there had been at least one other wreck there, and that the intersection is a tricky one.
“That’s a dangerous intersection anyway,” he said. “Because it’s a blind spot and there are no cross bars.”
Stumbo said the Glade Spring Police Department will be the primary investigators of the crash, because although it happened near the train tracks and involved Norfolk Southern vehicles, the crash occurred on the town road. The investigation is ongoing.
“Our thoughts and prayers from the town and the community go out to the deceased person,” he said.
ANDRE TEAGUE/BRISTOL HERALD COURIER
Norfolk-Southern crews work on fixing the tracks and switchgear that were damaged in Wednesday night's truck- train collision.
Investigators say they are withholding the name of the Norfolk Southern truck driver killed in a train collision late Wednesday afternoon until after an autopsy is completed.
“We have a pretty good idea who it is but we’re waiting for the autopsy report,” Glade Spring Police Officer Nikita Burke said Thursday.
A Norfolk Southern train carrying grain and other products slammed into the truck as it waited along Hemlock Street at what police described as a tricky intersection with a blind spot and no cross bars.
Emergency crews spent much of the night clearing truck debris and mopping spilled truck fuel from the road.
Dozens of rail workers returned to the scene early Thursday to replace the track switch, check for rail damage and remove left-over debris of the demolished flatbed tractor-trailer.
Though workers halted regional rail traffic immediately after the crash, trains were moving through the area again by nightfall, although at slower-than-normal speeds.
“Trains are still operating through the area at reduced speed,” Norfolk Southern spokeswoman Robin C. Chapman wrote in an email to the Bristol Herald Courier on Thursday. “I do not know at this time how long the slow order will be in effect.”
The truck driver had navigated a flatbed equipment trailer around the tracks in Glade Spring’s town square just before the accident.
Witnesses saw it burst into flames just as the train hit the truck near the cab, which was mostly incinerated in the blaze.
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- One fatality reported in collision of train and tractor-trailer in Glade Spring, Va. *PHOTO*
- Train crash update: Man killed was Norfolk Southern employee. Railroad begins crash cleanup *PHOTO*