Tractor-trailer split by train
by Wes Mayer
A tractor-trailer delivery truck was split in half by a train in downtown Grantville early Wednesday, with the driver and a passenger escaping unharmed.
Around 10:15 a.m., a Dollar General tractor-trailer was crossing the tracks heading southbound on Main Street in Grantville when the trailer’s landing gear became stuck on the tracks. The driver, Herbert Brown from Birmingham, got out and attempted to raise the landing gear by hand.
“By the time I got out to raise the landing gear,” Brown said, “the railroad lights started to flash.”
John Bridgeman, a Grantville resident who is also employed as a tractor-trailer driver, said he was driving by and noticed the truck was stuck. Knowing the railroad crossing was a main route for CSX, Bridgeman said there was not much time, so he turned around and warned Brown and the truck’s other passenger, James Giles, that a train would be coming. He said it was probably not more than two minutes when the train came down the tracks.
“It happened so fast,” Bridgeman said. “I told them, ‘both ya’ll better run because it’s not going to be pretty.’”
Bridgeman said he actually stood on the tracks waving his arms in an attempt to stop the train, but by the time the train’s conductor saw him and applied the brakes, the train was only 400 to 500 yards away, and there was no way it could stop in time. Everyone was able to get out of the way, though, and nobody was injured.
The CSX train plowed through the trailer – slicing through the “DOLLAR” in Dollar General, but it did not seem to cause any major damage to the tractor section itself. The train’s front end was only scratched and a hydraulic line may have been damaged, but there were no dangers – such as a hazardous material spill – from the accident, said Capt. Mark Griffin with the Coweta County Fire Department.
The trailer was mostly empty because Brown and Giles just unloaded a shipment at the Dollar General on LaGrange Street in Grantville. So only cardboard boxes and metal racks and carts were strewn along the tracks, and not merchandise or food.
This was not the first time a train accident has occurred at this railroad crossing in Grantville. In October 2011, a tractor-trailer with a cargo of auto parts being shipped to the Kia plant in West Point also became stuck on the tracks with its landing gear down, and a southbound train crashed through it. In that incident, the train struck the back end of the truck and pushed the cab about 200 yards before stopping.
The driver of that truck was able to exit the cab before impact.