In Johnson City
BY SARAH GREGORY
One person was killed and another remains hospitalized after a pickup truck failed to stop for an oncoming train shortly after 1 p.m. Thursday afternoon, according to the Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP).
Brock Humphreys, 41, of Greeneville, was the driver of the red 1995 Toyota pickup truck.
Humphreys was pronounced dead at the scene by a supervisor with Greene County-Greeneville Emergency Medical Services (EMS).
Humphreys' passenger, Anthony Southerland, 48, of Mosheim, was airlifted by Wings Air Rescue to Johnson City Medical Center.
A housing supervisor at Johnson City Medical Center confirmed this morning that Southerland remains hospitalized in the Intensive Care Unit in stable, but guarded, condition.
REPORT: TRUCK DIDN'T STOP
A report filed by investigating Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Derek Turberville said Humphreys' truck was traveling southbound at about 1:05 p.m. when it approached flashing red lights at the railroad crossing near 1100 West Irish St.
The THP says the truck did not stop at the crossing and was struck in the driver's side door.
Preliminary findings by Turberville indicate drugs and alcohol were a factor in the wreck. Toxicology tests will be conducted on Humphreys and Southerland.
Dalya J. Qualls, THP public information officer, said neither Humphreys nor Southerland was wearing a seat belt.
Turberville's report said safety restraints would not have made a difference as to the extent of injuries the victims sustained.
Preliminary investigation and the report filed by the THP showed lights at the railroad crossing to be fully operational at the time of the accident.
That particular crossing, however, does not have a bar that lowers across the tracks when a train is approaching.
The railroad crossing light pole located along the southbound lanes was knocked down and was lying flat on the ground while emergency personnel worked the scene.
Crossing lights on the opposite side of the tracks remained flashing while emergency crews responded to the accident scene.
Officials from Norfolk Southern Corporation, which operates the railway, were at the scene Thursday afternoon.
Two cars of the train had to be detached from each other to allow enough space to accommodate emergency vehicles and allow responders to work at the crash scene.
Units from the Greeneville Fire Department extinguished flames coming from the truck as a result of the collision.
A landing zone was established for a Wings Air Rescue helicopter.
Personnel from the Greeneville Police Department, the Greene County Sheriff's Department, the Greene County-Greeneville Emergency Medical Services, the Greeneville Emergency & Rescue Squad, the THP, and the THP's Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) all assisted in the accident response.
After emergency response, representatives from Norfolk Southern began inspecting the tracks and preparing for railway operations to resume.
Traffic in the area near the intersection of the Tennessee Rt. 70 Bypass and West Irish Street was disrupted for an extended period Thursday because of the accident.
Motorists traveling in the area of West Main Street, the Newport Highway (U.S. 321), the Asheville Highway (Tennessee Rt. 70), and West Irish Street had to be re-routed as the lengthy train remained at a stand-still for nearly two hours, blocking several crossings.
In addition to blocking the intersection near Bandy Road and Reaves Lane behind Greene Farmer's Co-Op, the train also blocked the intersection at Highway 70 and at another access farther east that crosses the tracks to connect West Main and West Irish streets.
Motorists had to be re-routed through various small, side streets in order to avoid the blocked train crossings.
Cutler Street, in particular, experienced a heavy flow of traffic and became quite congested as drivers attempted to navigate alternate routes.
The investigation into the accident is continuing. The THP will release a final report at a later time.
Officials with Norfolk Southern are also conducting an investigation. Results are not yet available.