Lucky break: Driver survives train-truck collision in Lee County

By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

BREWER – A tractor-trailer was ripped in half in a collision with a train in the Brewer community in south Lee County on Thursday morning, but the driver escaped serious injury.
The truck was eastbound on Brewer Road – also known as County Road 520 – and the BNSF-operated train was heading northwest toward Tupelo when the collision occurred about 8 a.m., said Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson.
The train appears to have struck the truck just behind the rear axle of the cab, Johnson said. The cab separated from the trailer. The two pieces ended up in ditches on opposite sides of the tracks. The cab of the truck, separated from its wheels. The trailer crumbled with the floor nearly separating from the rest of the box.
Raymond Buchanon, 33, of Memphis was driving the empty rig and was able to crawl out of the cab on his own, Johnson said. He was taken to North Mississippi Medical Center with apparently minor injuries. He was treated and released.
“He’s a lucky man,” Johnson said.
The train crew was unharmed, and the train was not derailed in the incident.
There was no hazardous cargo on the train or in the tractor trailer. Lee County Emergency Management officials notified both the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality of the wreck. Plantersville firefighters were on the scene to help monitor diesel fuel leaking from the truck.
The accident remains under investigation by the Lee County sheriff’s department and BNSF officials. Investigators have confirmed the signal lights at the crossing were functioning at the time of the accident, Johnson said.
The accident stopped traffic on Brewer Road between Highway 6 and County Road 855 for a couple of hours. The empty coal train was delayed about 50 minutes, said Joe Faust, the BNSF public affairs director for the region.
Drivers at Crosstown in Tupelo might have noticed fewer trains on Thursday morning, but the impact on train traffic was minimal, Faust said.
According to Federal Railroad Administration statistics, Mississippi recorded 41 highway-rail incidents and four deaths in the first 10 months of 2011, the most current statistics available.

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