A disabled vehicle partially on the tracks at the Bell Buckle railroad crossing was struck and destroyed by a passing CSX train Monday night.
No one was in the Volkswagen GTI at the time. But some are questioning why the train failed to stop.
The car’s owner, Han Henley of Wartrace, says CSX has reached out to her and is helping handle things.
“I was on the phone with CSX at 6:07 p.m. and the officer, who also spoke to CSX had already notified them by that time,” Henley said. “I’d guess that the original call was made around 6:05 but I can’t be sure. I believe there was also a bystander who called the CSX emergency line as well.
“I was told on the phone by CSX that someone had already called and notified them of a car on the tracks at that intersection.”
The train struck the vehicle approximately 15-20 minutes later, Henley said.
“My phone had died when the train actually hit my car so I didn’t grab the time then either, but if I had to guess it would have been some time after or right around 6:30,” Henley said.
“The last photo I took of my car still on the tracks was at 6:15, and my husband had arrived 5-10 minutes after that and we’d been talking for at least 5-10 minutes before the train hit waiting for the tow truck.”
Henley described the crash as a “freak accident.”
“It was rainy with low visibility and I turned into a ditch with asphalt by accident and I never imagined it would end with my car being totaled,” Henley said.
“I was driving home from work and taking back roads because I just put a spare tire on my car and wanted to avoid the highway. I wasn’t used to going through Bell Buckle and due to the rain and darkness I thought I was turning onto the road but accidentally turned into a ditch right next to the road. There is really poor visibility in that spot at night.”
The ditch at the location is steep with a mixture of pavement and rocks.
“Initially I tried to get the car out of the ditch but it wouldn’t budge, it’s a really low-to-the-ground car,” Henley said. “As soon as I realized it wasn’t moving I called the CSX emergency line immediately.”
A passing Bedford County deputy had stopped and was directing traffic, so Henley saw no need to call 911.
“I asked the officer directing traffic to call a tow truck immediately after I got off the line with CSX. And then I called my husband to come over in case anything happened,” Henley said.
CSX and Henley were in contact again following the crash.
“I spoke with CSX after the incident and was told there was a miscommunication on their end, and that we did everything right in that situation,” Henley said. “CSX is working with me and my husband on a solution and we’re very grateful that they reached out to us and that nobody got hurt.
“People get stuck in ditches frequently and for a lot of reasons… I was just the unlucky one that got stuck on train tracks at the wrong time. I know that this situation could have ended so much worse, but at the very least CSX has taken responsibility and it means a lot to us.”
CSX did not return a request for comment by midday Thursday.