According to Richmond County Sheriff’s Deputy Cory Carlyle, James Ryan Anderson, 25, was attempting to drive across the railroad bridge, located next to St. Paul’s Church, in a Ford F150 with his brother Todd, 37, around 5:30 a.m. Friday, when the truck crashed into a trestle beam.
“I think they honestly thought they were on the road,” said Lt. Randy Prickett.
A train traveling from Georgia to South Carolina came up behind the vehicle but was able to stop before it crashed into the pickup’s rear.
The transmission had jammed during the crash and the speedometer was stuck on 60 mph. Prickett said it’s a pretty good estimate of the speed but the actual speed could be slightly lower or higher.
Deputies believe alcohol was a contributing factor in the crash.
The brothers have been interviewed, but Prickett said neither remembers where they were coming from or where they were going. Investigators are trying to determine whether a backseat passenger fled the scene before deputies arrived.
The Anderson brothers were still in the vehicle when deputies arrived, but officers discovered a pool of blood outside one of the rear doors.
Susan Terpay, a spokesperson for Norfolk Southern, said it could take up to two days to complete repairs.
Two trains were delayed Friday after the incident. Terpay said all trains are now being rerouted.
“It will have minimal impact,” she said.
Sean Vandiver, a terminal superintendent of Norfolk Southern, said these type of incidents are rare.
“Unfortunately, I have seen this,” he said.
Crews were unsuccessful at pulling the lodged vehicle off the bridge Friday morning. It eventually fell upside down onto Riverwalk Augusta.
The brothers were transported to Medical College of Georgia Hospital with head injuries. According to a hospital spokeswoman, the driver remained in serious condition Friday afternoon, and the passenger is in fair condition.