GREENE COUNTY, AR (KAIT) – A Semi driver is lucky to be alive after his trailer was hit by a train in Greene County Wednesday morning.
The accident happened at the intersection of Highway 49 and Greene County Road 835 about 3 miles North of Paragould.
According to the Greene County Sheriff's Department, Dean Brown was traveling North on Highway 49 when he started to cross the train tracks. Brown had just dropped of 27,000 pounds of steel plates at Hart's manufacturing a few minutes before the accident.
Brown, "Didn't see a train and I come almost 45 foot in front of it and I heard it and the same time I heard the horn I felt the impact."
According to Captain Bruce Drope from the Greene County Sheriff's Office this intersection has a history.
Drope, "In the past 5 to 6 years we've had a handful of accidents here. I can think of at least 3 18-wheelers being involved or large trucks such as this one. "
The intersection on the West side is quite short between the highway and the crossing. A sign warns motorist that you have only 45 feet from road to track. A semi trailer can be anywhere from 48 to 52 feet long not including the tractor.
Drope, "There's a short distance here from the tracks to Highway 49. And once you commit yourself, especially in a big truck if they commit themselves to Highway 49 they pretty much have to make sure they have a clear path onto the highway."
County Road 835 is heavily trafficked with cars and trucks. Many people use the road to go to work in Paragould and big trucks us the road to by-pass traffic in Paragould. There are no crossing lights and bushes hide trains coming South from approaching West bound traffic.
The empty flatbed trailer that Brown was hauling landed about 250 feet from the impact site. Impact with the locomotive nearly bent the trailer in half. The fifth wheel plate, the part that the trailer locks into on the tractor was torn off the truck and still was attached to the trailer.
Brown, "Probably got a million miles of over-the-road experience without an accident and I've never seen a 5th wheel break like that. That's probably what saved my life."
The locomotive was stopped about a quarter mile from the accident. Parts of the trailer were impaled on the front and the battery cover from the conductors' side of the locomotive was torn off at the scene.
Brown says the whole thing came as a shock. "It jarred my coffee. Knocked my coffee out of the cupholder and it just kind of scared me a little bit because I didn't know what happened I never seen him." Brown said the good Lord was watching over him this morning.
Nobody on the train crew was injured in the accident.