Community pushes for more warning signs at railroad tracks after several accidents

“I don’t want this to happen to any other family”

Community pushes for more warning signs at railroad tracks after several accidents

SPARKS, Ga. (WALB) -In Cook County, a community is pushing for more railroad warning signs.

This comes after several car accidents involving the Norfolk Southern trains.

Multiple accidents reported along the train tracks in Sparks.
Multiple accidents reported along the train tracks in Sparks. (Source: WALB)

Accident reports from Georgia State Patrol show the drivers have been at fault. But some of those drivers claim there are not enough warning signs.

Within 10 days, there were two accidents at the same railroad track on Connell Road.

One driver was able to walk away unharmed, but another was left in critical condition.

“I blacked out as soon as I got hit. All I remember is waking up in Tallahassee,” said Zachary Goetzman.

Visible marks of his injuries still remain from the crash on April 12.

Goetzman says the hit from the passenger side is why he is alive today.

Car tracks and pieces of the wreck are still on the tracks.

He was airlifted and hospitalized for about a week in critical condition.

“How many more people have to get hurt here before something is genuinely done about it. How many more? With all the kids that live here, how many kids have to get hit? How many families will get destroyed by financial difficulties for having to pay for medical bills or pay for funeral expenses due to the loss of a family member,” said Sierra Jean, his fiance.

Goetzman was given a ticket after the crash for speeding and running a stop sign.

He tells me the speed wasn’t written down. He says there was no stop sign at the intersection before the accident.

There is a picture showing how the intersection looked before with a yield sign.

They tell me soon after the crash, a STOP sign was put up.

“The morning of December 5, I was 125 miles away deer hunting in the county. I got the call no father should ever have to receive,” said William Scott Keith.

Just a few blocks away on Milligan Rentz Road, Keith lost his only child, 19-year-old Dracey Keith.

Multiple accidents reported along the train tracks in Sparks.
Multiple accidents reported along the train tracks in Sparks. (Source: WALB)

Keith says he had contacted a lawyer, reviewed evidence but there was no case.

His son was at fault.

”I don’t blame the train driver, he’s just doing his job. But something, you got a train running 65 mph running through the heart of south Georgia, you need something upside the stop sign,” said Keith.

The signs that stand now, he tells me are new.

WALB’s Jennifer Morejon reached out to Norfolk Southern for comment on the crashes.

They tell me safety is a top concern for them. They say the trains are operated within the regulations and the tracks, and crossings have the right signs.

They say drivers are responsible for obeying, and the company is only responsible for posting the railroad crossing signs at all crossings. Any additional warnings are up to the county.

I also contacted Cook County’s Road Department but there was no clear answer on what the process is to get more signs.

We’re working on finding these answers.

“I don’t want this to happen to any other family, I watch my wife die a little bit every day. I don’t want nobody else going through what we’re going through,” said Keith.

If you would like to help Goetzman with medical expenses, you can donate on their GoFundMe page.

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