Man dies after train collides with his truck -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Man dies after train collides with his truck

October 27, 2005

Ben Hill County- Co-workers say they can't believe 61-year-old James Nichols is gone.

"He was very dependable and dedicated, always there. He would go day or night in emergency storm damage or whatever. Just a fine individual, as an individual and an employee, just a fine person," says Marvin McKie, Assistant Road Superintendent.

"About 8:41 AM this morning we got the call that one of the county trucks collided with a CSX train here on Zinnia Road, Ben Hill County," says Sheriff Bobby McLemore.

Authorities say Nichols was headed south on Zinnia Road. He was dropping off a load of field dirt to a spot where other county road employees, including his son, were working.

"There were two witnesses sitting here in a car waiting on the train that were on this side of the railroad, and they sat here and witnessed the whole thing."

"They said that he just rolled through the crossing, and the train hit him. Apparently he didn't stop at the stop sign," McLemore says.

A CSX train traveling east about 55 miles per hour struck the dump truck just behind the cab. Troopers say the conductor says he blew the whistle, but didn't see Nichols until it was too late to stop.

"He's one of our better drivers. He was always safety conscious and very alert, very," McKie says.

Nichols' co-workers say they'll miss the man they call a fighter. They say though he was battling prostate cancer, he remained upbeat and almost never missed a day of work. They say he had planned to retire in February, around the time Nichols would have turned 62.

There are no lights or crossing arms at the intersection where the crash occurred. Both the state patrol and CSX are investigating the collision.