Safety upgrades wanted after train wreck - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Safety upgrades wanted after train wreck

June 13, 2005

Valdosta - A bouquet of flowers lays along the train tracks where 18-year-old Shakeria Fleming and 21-year-old Kayla Brooklin lost their lives late Friday night. "This is one of the worst railway collisions I've seen in a while," said Sgt. Earl Durrance.

The girls were headed west on Floyd Street when Fleming's Buick Reagle crossed paths with a Norfolk Southern train. Police aren't sure if she was trying to beat the train or didn't see or hear it coming. "They didn't appear to be stopping for the train, the car actually appeared to be accelerating as they reached the crossing," said Durrance.

The intersection where the girls were hit has a stop sign, but there aren't any railroad crossing arms. That's something people who live in this neighborhood want changed. "Some people are gonna take chances on their life and try to bypass the train," said Larry Trapp.

Larry Trapp lives about two blocks from the accident site, and says these streets are full of traffic trying to get ahead of the train. Since this is the only intersection in the neighborhood without crossing arms, a lot of people head this way hoping to get across the tracks in time. "We definitely need a guard down there for the safety and protection of the people in this community," said Trapp.

The girls' deaths are a painful reminder to stop at all railroad crossings, whether there's crossing arms, a stop sign, or no signs at all. "It might take five minutes or so for the train to pass, but its well worth it to wait just a couple of minutes," said Durrance.

"This is just a disaster for this community," said Trapp. A disaster that will hopefully prevent other drivers from doing the same.

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