A tractor-trailer was split in half by a freight train in Virginia after it became stuck on the tracks at a notorious high-grade railroad crossing that has seen multiple similar accidents in recent years.
The accident occurred Sept. 6 at the Curtis Street railroad crossing in Chester, Virginia. Dash-cam video of another driver stopped at the tracks shows the three occupants of the tractor-trailer’s cab running from the tracks as a freight train barrels toward their stranded truck.
Moments later, the train rips through the trailer “like a knife in butter,” one witness told Richmond, Virginia’s WRIC 8News.
The collision was so loud that nearby residents heard it and said it sounded like a bomb exploding. In an instant, the tractor-trailer is decimated and its cargo spilled all over the tracks. Nobody was injured in the crash.
“It was faster than a normal freight train goes through. We’ve had a lot of problems with trains going slow and taking their time, this guy was moving a little bit,” Mike Eugene, who provided the video recording of the crash, told 8News.
The crash occurred at an intersection that has a steep grade leading up to it. The incline at the crossing makes it difficult for tractor-trailers and other flat-bottomed vehicles to cross without getting stuck.
According to 8News, there was a deadly collision at the same crossing in 2014. Two months later, another tractor-trailer became stranded on the tracks and was struck by a train. Another collision occurred at the crossing in 2016.
Although there is a warning sign before the crossing, motorists familiar with the crossing told 8News it’s just not enough to prevent collisions between trains and vehicles.
Last month, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that a deadly crash that occurred in Biloxi, Mississippi, last year when a tour bus became stuck on a similar high-grade railroad crossing was largely the fault of CSX Railroad.
According to the NTSB, the crossing where that crash occurred has an unusually high vertical profile, with a steep grade that put tractor-trailers, buses, and other vehicles at risk of becoming stuck on the tracks. In the three years before the March 17, 2017 crash, there were 23 known vehicle groundings there.
“Although CSX Transportation and the City of Biloxi were aware of this high number of safety-critical events, neither acted to mitigate the hazard,” the NTSB announcement stated.
The NTSB recommended that CSX Railroad and the city modify the crossing or close it.