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TRACK SAFETY: Railroad officials canvass area to inform residents
by Bill Baldowski
July 23, 2014 03:00 PM | 3457 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Samantha M. Shal<br>Gary Hedgepath of Norfolk Southern, center, reviews safety information with Douglasville Police Lt. Brad Loudermilk and Rick Harris of Norfolk Southern.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal
Gary Hedgepath of Norfolk Southern, center, reviews safety information with Douglasville Police Lt. Brad Loudermilk and Rick Harris of Norfolk Southern.
Douglasville Police Officer Lt. Brad Loudermilk is in charge of investigating all fatal automobile accidents occurring in the city.

Although he has investigated numerous such incidents, the ones involving a train hitting a vehicle at railroad crossings or hitting someone illegally walking along the tracks are the ones he said he particularly hates to investigate.

It is for that reason that Loudermilk joined other city of Douglasville and Douglas County law enforcement and Norfolk Southern Railroad officials last week in a safety awareness effort designed to save lives in and around the county’s railroad tracks.

Ten law enforcement and railroad company officials canvassed numerous businesses near the tracks in the county to remind residents and distribute safety information about the potential for train collisions with vehicles or persons illegally walking along the tracks.

“Typically, any accident that happens on railroad property involving a car or pedestrian usually involves a fatality,” Loudermilk said.

Last year, he investigated two fatal train-related county accidents, both involving people trespassing on railroad property and being hit by a train.

In the first accident, which Loudermilk said may have been a suicide resulting from a domestic situation, a man rushed onto the railroad tracks and was hit by a passing train.

The other, he said, involved someone walking along the tracks with headphones on and being struck from behind, despite the train’s warning signals.

Federal Railroad Administration statistics show the county is tied with Richmond County for the ninth-highest rate of train-vehicle collisions in Georgia during a six-year span between 2007 and 2012, said Norfolk Southern spokesman Rick Harris.

Harris, who helped spread the word last week, said freight and passenger trains typically do not run on the same schedule and freight trains operate on an irregular schedule.

Advances in technology have made freight trains — the most prevalent type seen in the county — quieter than they have ever been and they can reach an individual or vehicle faster than many people may realize, he said.

In addition to Norfolk Southern traffic, the tracks through Douglasville also carry Amtrak trains on a route from Washington, D.C., to New Orleans.

Harris said, “The main reason we are out here canvassing areas adjacent to railroad tracks is to save lives.

“We want to raise the level of public awareness that railroad property is private property and it is not only dangerous to trespass on railroad property, it is illegal.”

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