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Truck and train collide

By Michael Butler

When you read the headline about a vehicle getting hit by a train, the outcome is usually tragic. Fortunately in this case, the only casualty was a pickup truck. The driver, an elderly Tallassee man, did not suffer any lifethreatening injuries.

"He had some abrasions and scrapes," said Tallassee Police Chief Todd Buce.

Tallassee police responded to the call at the Highway 229 railroad crossing just outside of the city limits near I-85 at 10:52 a.m. on Tuesday, June 6.

"(He's) extremely fortunate," Buce said. "The weight difference between a vehicle and a train is astronomical. It's like 4000 to 1."

Buce said it did not appear to be a case of trying to "beat the train."

"I think he was just on his way back from Montgomery and has traveled that so many times that you just get tunnel vision. The arms fell in front of him and he struck the first arm. Then the train struck the far end of the vehicle."

Buce added that the difference in the situation being far worse was probably within hundreths of a second.

"It saved him from serious injuries. Luckily there was a volunteer fireman, who is also an EMT, there and witness to the accident. He rendered immediate aid. He said the gentleman never lost consciousness. It just clipped the rear end of the vehicle but still did astronomical damage. It completely totalled the vehicle. It took the rear tire off the assembly."

The truck was pushed approximately 150 feet.

"That's because of it running into other stuff that stopped it," Buce added. "It's very dangerous. We just want everybody to be aware when you're coming to the tracks."

Tallassee was the first agency to respond to Tuesday's incident.

"We were Johnny on the spot. Because of that location being within three 911 call centers, if we get a call we go ahead and send an officer. We want to make sure that if our citizens need help, we'll get it pretty fast."

While the accident did shut down Highway 229, the delay was not as long as Buce anticipated. Traffic was rolling again within a couple of hours.

"That's one of our main arteries. CSX got up with us pretty quickly. We were able to clean it up and get it moving."