Originally created 09/17/02

Repairs close crash-site crossing



The Georgia Highway 56 railroad crossing where a train derailed nearly two weeks ago will close again Wednesday and Thursday for repair work related to the derailment.

"They initially repaired what they could so they could operate," said Vonda Everett of the Georgia Department of Transportation. "But this will be the permanent fix."

The train derailed after colliding with a tractor-trailer at the crossing, killing the truck's driver.

Ms. Everett said Norfolk Southern workers will tear up a 720-foot section of the tracks near McBean and reinstall them. She said that while the road is closed at the crossing, detours will direct traffic around the repairs.

Meanwhile, Richmond County Coroner Leroy Sims said he continues to await DNA results to confirm the identity of the driver who was killed. The owner of the truck, Lisa Collins, identified him as Tommy Wilson of Florida.

A Richmond County Sheriff's Office report released Monday said the truck driver left 210 feet of skid marks on the road as he tried to avoid hitting the train.

Witness Jason Bazemore told police the driver was "running way over the speed limit" as he came down the hill, the report states.

"The truck never hit his brakes until he was about 150 yards from the train," Mr. Bazemore said in a hand-written statement.

The truck slammed into the train, derailing 24 cars and closing the highway for three days.

Reach Preston Sparks and Greg Rickabaugh at (706) 724-0851 or newsroom@augustachronicle.com.