A midday collision between a southbound Norfolk Southern freight train and Conway Freight tractor trailer closed Main Street for two hours on Wednesday. There were no reported injuries and Main Street was reopened at approximately 2:30pm EST.
Once the train had finally stopped and the truck driver had an opportunity to assess the location of his vehicle the implications were clear; The rear of the truck was jammed against the wall of a freight building and less than two feet separated the front of the truck from the stopped train. The driver had escaped a life-threatening accident by only the narrowest of margins.
At around noon the Conway Freight driver was attempting to back an approximately 40-foot trainer up to a building loading dock near the intersection of Main Street and the railroad. As the driver encountered difficulty negotiating the narrow service road that parallels the tracks, his truck cab became temporarily positioned over the tracks.
The vehicle’s driver fortunately saw the approaching train as he was attempting to position the truck only seconds before the impact.
“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 “ said the truck operator, identified only as “Donald”. “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.”
“There would have been a much worse outcome here if the driver hadn’t done what he did” said a police official at the scene of the accident.
Berryville police responded quickly to the accident and began directing motorists waiting for the train to clear the tracks to use alternative routes. Although the accident did cause traffic delays, a much more serious outcome was clearly avoided due to the tractor trailer driver’s quick thinking.
Moments after the accident the Conway Freight driver appeared visibly shaken as he contemplated his “near miss”.
According to the Norfolk Southern train crew on-scene, it is likely that as the train engine passed by, the truck cab received a glancing blow from a steel railing at the head of the engine. Had the driver attempted to move the truck forward to avoid a collision altogether there may not have been time to fully clear the rig from the tracks.
Officials at the scene of the collision also said that even though the train’s engineer likely saw the truck on the tracks before the accident, it would have been impossible to stop the train in such a short distance.
Damage was visible to both the side of the frieght building and the truck’s trailer. The tractor cab also sustained damaged to the left front fender.
Norfolk Southern spokesman Robin Chapman said that the train was carrying intermodal freight containers on platforms. Chapman said that the train was later cleared to continue its route and apparently did not sustain serious damage. The accident is being investigated by Berryville Master Patrol Officer J. E. Adams.