Originally created 09/17/97

Truck pulls in front of train, kills 4



WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. - Four men died and a fifth was injured when their pickup truck pulled in front of a freight train at a crossing Tuesday morning, Lexington County authorities said.

The men apparently were late for work when the driver, who survived, ignored at least three warning signs or signals as he approached the crossing, state Highway Patrol Cpl. Jones Gamble said.

The victims were identified as Isaac Crim Jr., 35, of Horatio; Ramson Wright, 50, of Horatio; Michael Portee, 28, of Rembert; and Robert House, 31, of Sumter, Lexington County senior deputy coroner Edward Hite said.

The driver, Joseph Crim, 28, was taken to Richland Memorial Hospital, where he was in serious condition. The train hit the passenger side of the truck, Coroner Harry Harman said.

The victims wore uniforms indicating they worked for Rae Construction, which was doing a paving job in Lexington County, WIS-TV in Columbia reported.

The collision occurred shortly before 8 a.m. at the intersection of U.S. 1 and Kitty Wake Drive, said Paul Kirby with the Lexington County fire service.

There were no guard rails to block traffic, but the warning lights and bells at the crossing were working at the time of the collision, Cpl. Gamble said.

"The truck was moved quite a bit off that intersection by the train before coming to rest beside the track," Mr. Kirby said. "Some of it was on fire, also a portion of the train apparently had some fire involved in it. All of that has been extinguished."

The train was traveling from Lexington to Columbia when the collision occurred, he said.

There was no word on how fast the train was going at the time of the crash. No one on the train was injured.