Thursday, August 23, 2007

Texting and Trains Don’t Mix

Following article is from the Cincinnati Enquirer for Monday, 8/20/07.

Text-messager hit by train

ELMWOOD PLACE -- A man walking across the Township Avenue railroad crossing was struck and thrown 50 feet by a Norfolk Southern train this morning.

A witness, Mike Billups, of Deer Park said the man was text-messaging on his cell phone at the crossing just before the accident, which occurred about 10 a.m.

Billups said the man waited for a southbound CSX train to pass. After it cleared the crossing, the man walked forward and was struck by a northbound train.

The man may have been distracted and unaware that a second train was coming in the other direction, Billups said.

Col. William Peskin of the Elmwood Place Police Department said he also had heard that the man was text-messaging and possibly distracted. The crossing is maintained by Norfolk Southern and had all gates and lights in working order.

The unidentified man, who is in his 20s, was taken to University Hospital by St. Bernard rescue. Elmwood Place Mayor Richard Ellison, who went to the scene, said the man appeared “a little roughed up” with a nose bleed, bump on the head and some scratches but appears as if he will be OK.

Ellison received a call about the man being hit by a train and immediately went to the area.

“There were five witnesses. I talked to three of them myself,” Ellison said.

The witnesses told the mayor they saw the man wait in front of the double gate for a southbound train to pass before crossing the tracks while text messaging on his cell phone. That’s when he was hit by the northbound train.

“The horn was blowing like mad and the kid was text messaging,” Ellison said. “The kid apparently was just daydreaming.

Added Ellison: “The only way the train could have missed him was if it could make a turn.”

The railroad crossing has had “practically no” incidents in the past, Ellison said.

Additional information from the Associated Press.

Aug 20, 11:47 PM EDT

Zachariah Smith, 18, waited around 10 a.m. for a southbound train operated by Jacksonville, Fla.-based CSX Corp. to pass. He then walked around a gate and onto the tracks, apparently unaware that a Norfolk Southern Corp. train was coming from the other direction, said witness Mike Billups.

"The horn was blowing like mad and the kid was text messaging," said Mayor Richard Ellison, who went to the scene and talked to several witnesses after hearing of the accident. "The kid apparently was just daydreaming."

Smith was knocked out by the collision, Billups said.

After regaining consciousness, Smith was taken by paramedics to nearby University Hospital in Cincinnati with undisclosed injuries. He was listed in serious condition Monday night.

It was not clear how fast the train was traveling.

Gates and lights at the crossing, which is maintained by Norfolk, Va.-based Norfolk Southern, were in working order, said Elmwood Place police Col. William Peskin.