By NEESEY PAYNE
James Edward Brown of Dublin died Saturday afternoon after being struck by a Norfolk Southern train.
Brown, age 26, was crossing the tracks at an unapproved crossing near the 200 block of West Main Street in Dublin. According to Robin Chapman, Norfolk Southern Corp. director of public relations, the train crew blew the horn to get Brown’s attention after spotting him on the tracks.
It was said Brown was seen wearing a headset, but there is no concrete answer as the case is still under investigation, said Lt. Dennis Lambert, Dublin Police Department.
Chapman said unfortunately cases such as Brown’s happen all too frequently. “Last year there were in the neighborhood of 400 pedestrian fatalities at railroads nationwide. We want to keep our communities safe,” and it starts with education, he said.
Chapman explained by the time an engineer sees a pedestrian its already too late. He said stopping distance varies greatly depending on the weather as well as a train’s speed and weight. “Trains are very big and it’s easy to underestimate the speed they are traveling. On average it takes approximately one mile for a freight traveling 50 mph to stop,” Chapman said.
According to Dublin Fire Chief Ronnie McClure, the accident occurred behind Wades and the train was almost to the railroad crossing at Patty’s Kitchen before it could stop.
Railroads are private property. Those who walk on the tracks or cross at an unapproved crossing are not only putting themselves in danger, but breaking the law.
According to Virginia Code 18.2-59, “Any person who goes upon the track of a railroad other than to pass over such road at a public or private crossing, or who willfully rides, drives or leads any animal or contrives for any animal to go on such track except to cross as aforesaid, without the consent of the railroad company or person operating such road, shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor.”
Chapman said pedestrians should cross tracks only at designated crossings, obey the same signals as drivers, and always look both ways before crossing the tracks. He added freight trains don’t keep regular schedules and pedestrians should be on the lookout for them at all times.
The Claytor Lake Regional Crash Team is assisting Dublin Police Department in the investigation.