ASHLAND, Va. (WRIC) — CSX Transportation is investigating how and why two trains struck two cars in under 24 hours over the weekend in Ashland.
The first crash was on Saturday along Center Street and Ashcake Road. No one was hurt.
Then Sunday night, a CSX locomotive barreled down the tracks and crashed into a car in the downtown area.
Dave Ward watched it all unfold from inside the Iron Horse Restaurant, which sits just a few yards from the tracks.
“Saw the train, heard the loud honking and it just didn’t make it,” recalls Ward, “Hit the car and spun it around and the front end smashed into the side of the train.”
Again, no one was hurt. The driver and his passenger got out of the car minutes earlier after inadvertently turning onto the tracks and getting stuck.
It’s something that’s happened more than once at the England Street and South Railroad Avenue crossing.
“I just think it’s a visibility thing, I really do,” says Debra Mahanes, who also works at Iron Horse.
Locals say it’s a tricky intersection, especially for drivers unfamiliar with the area.
“It’s a lot to look for on each side with the train tracks separating the roads,” explains Ashland resident Holly Colby, “So people especially not familiar with the area could easily drive onto the tracks.”
Several people shared a theory with 8News about drivers who rely on their GPS to get them through downtown Ashland. They say GPS navigation software prompts drivers to turn left before they get to the train tracks. So if it’s dark and someone is unfamiliar with the intersection, it’s easy to see how they might turn onto the tracks instead of the road.
Adds Mahanes, “Obviously it’s a safety thing, so hopefully CSX can take a look at what can we do to make it safer.”
CSX crews spent Monday afternoon evaluating the scene at the Ashcake Road crossing.
Because it was a holiday, 8News wasn’t able to speak to anyone from the railroad to see if it’s looking to implement any changes that might make the crossing easier to maneuver.