Originally created 09/13/03

Train collision closes highway



MCBEAN, Ga. - A Friday morning wreck involving a logging truck at a railroad crossing near the Richmond-Burke county line derailed a train car and shut down the highway for part of the day, officials said.

Authorities said traffic on Georgia Highway 56 was halted for several hours, and authorities advised motorists to take U.S. Highway 25 as an alternate route between Augusta and Waynesboro.

Unlike a deadly train and tractor-trailer wreck at the same crossing last September, officials said no one was seriously injured.

Richmond County sheriff's Deputy Robert Silas said Michael Crosby, 23, of Claxton, Ga., was driving north on Highway 56 from Millen, Ga., just after 10 a.m., and said he could not stop at a train crossing where an empty Norfolk-Southern freight train was passing.

Deputy Silas said Mr. Crosby traveled into the southbound lane, then went into the northbound lane, striking a parked Chevrolet Cavalier before hitting the train. The passenger of the Cavalier was unhurt, and Mr. Crosby refused medical treatment, the deputy said.

The crash derailed a single train car, authorities said.

"He was very lucky," Deputy Silas said of Mr. Crosby, who might face charges. "He did a good job of getting away from traffic."

The Georgia Department of Motor Vehicle Safety and Norfolk-Southern are investigating the accident, Deputy Silas said.

Vonda Everett, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Transportation, said that all lanes of traffic on the road were open by 2:43 p.m., and that her agency would also investigate.

"Anytime we have an accident involving a train, we have to do an investigation automatically," Ms. Everett said.

On Sept. 4, 2002, a tractor-trailer slammed into a loaded freight train at the same crossing, killing the driver, Tommy Wilson, 55, of Floral City, Fla., and derailing 24 cars.

Reach Jeremy Craig at (706) 823-3409 or jeremy.craig@augustachronicle.com.