Sixteen year old Sumter County teen was killed late last week in a train wreck in Sumter, South Carolina. The teen was driving his Jeep Cherokee around 12:30pm when he crossed the tracks while a train was coming. Nearby residents say they heard a loud crash followed by the screeching brakes of the train. The train, which was traveling at 35mph, struck the vehicle on the driver’s side. Although neighbors rushed to the scene, the teen could not be saved.
The Lynam Road railroad crossing where the train accident occurred is covered on each side with trees and bushes on each side making it extremely difficult to see approaching trains from the road. Local residents say that drivers often have to pull onto the tracks in order to see past the foliage, and in this case it was too late.
Investigators and on-lookers say the tires of the vehicle had been completely severed from the car and were scattered on the ground. Debris from the wreck littered the scene of the accident.
The intersection, which does not have a gate or arm to prevent cars from crossing the track, relies upon crossing bucks as well as lights and stop lines on the pavement according to a CSX spokesperson. The type of signal mechanism for each railroad intersection is determined by the State Department of Transportation. Once selected, the railroad, in this case CSX, puts the signal mechanism in at the railroad crossing and maintains it. According to at least one report, the DOT only picks about 20 crossings a year to gate due to budgetary constraints. Sadly, the number of reported train accidents in South Carolina has increased in the past several years. The remaining question is whether the DOT and CSX did enough for the Lynam railroad crossing and whether this tragedy could have been avoided.
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