BERRYVILLE, VA – A Conway truck driver narrowly avoided a major collision with a Norfolk Southern train in Berryville, VA at the Main Street railroad crossing on Wednesday, September 1, 2010.
Berryville is in Clarke County, Virginia in the northern part of the state about 11 miles southeast of Winchester, 25 miles northwest of Leesburg and 61 miles west of Gaithersburg, MD.
Fortunately, this was only a minor accident between the Con-way semi truck and the train. The tractor trailer pulled back in time and received only a glancing blow from the train, incurring comparatively minor damage.
The incident happened around 12:00 noon when the semi truck driver was in the middle of backing up his 40 foot trailer into a loading dock along a narrow access driveway next to a building and the railroad tracks at the Main Street crossing.
The truck driver, identified only as “Donald”, was having trouble negotiating the narrow service access between the building. In the process, the semi truck cab was temporarily sitting over the tracks and there was an oncoming train approaching.
With only seconds to spare before impending disaster, as Donald was trying to get his truck into position he saw the train coming and jammed the trailer against the building to put as much space as he could between the oncoming train and his rig.
Fortunately, the truck driver reacted in time and the train only clipped the nose of the cab. In an article at the Clarke Daily News website, there is a story about the incident and some photos of the aftermath.
From the photos, it looks like the collision damaged the cab’s left fender, headlight and bumper and maybe caused some damage to the front suspension and wheel alignment, but without the quick thinking of the driver this could have been a lot worse – a LOT worse.
In the Clarke Daily News article, the driver said:
I was checking to see if I could back the truck closer to the loading dock of this building when I saw the train coming … When I saw that the train was going to hit my truck I said the heck with damaging the building and jammed the trailer against the dock.
The train received minor damage and there was also damage to the building and the truck’s trailer, but all things considered, this was not serious.
It is not known if the truck driver or anyone else sustained any injuries but he did appear visibly shaken after the incident.
Officials said that the train engineer probably saw the truck on the tracks, but it was impossible for him to stop the train in time to avoid the collision. The distance was just too short and there wasn’t enough time to stop.
Robin Chapman, a spokesman from Norfolk Southern, said that the train did not sustain serious damage.
Below is a Google street view of the Main Street railway crossing in Berryville. You can clearly see the tracks and the loading dock that the truck driver was maneuvering into. You can click the mouse and drag it around to get a full 360° view of the scene of the accident.
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Berryville police responded quickly to the accident, which did cause some traffic delays as motorists were directed to use alternate routes until the train was cleared to continue on.
Although the accident did cause some damage, the truck driver’s quick reaction clearly avoided a much more serious result.
The accident is currently under investigation by the Berryville police.