SMITHS STATION, Ala. — Crossing guard arms are now up and in working order at the railroad crossing across from Smiths Station High School.
Work began on the project back in January, and Smiths Station Mayor F.L. Bubba Copeland said that bringing the crossing guard arms to the crossing was a team effort between the Lee County Commission, Lee County Board of Education and Norfolk Southern. Now, all railroad crossings in the city limits have crossing arms.
Mayor Copeland said that these devices will make things safer, but hopes that folks obey the crossing devices.
“Before the arms were up, it was an extremely dangerous place,” Mayor Copeland said. “We had several accidents there. Now, I hope we don’t have anymore accidents. I don’t want to be naive to think that we won’t, but I hope that this cuts down on the number of accidents and a lot of people risking going through there when the train is coming.”
Back in July of 2014, Vivian Martin, a teacher at Smiths Station High School was leaving to head to the store to pickup items in preparation for the first day of school. She left the parking lot of the school and stopped at the stop sign in front of the crossing. She did not see or hear anything and proceeded to cross.
The next thing she remembered was Coach Michael Williams of the high school telling her that help was on the way and that she would be OK. Soon after, she was at the emergency room and heard the nurse telling her she was going to be OK.
After completing various tests a state trooper spoke to her.
“I remember a state trooper asking me questions: my name, address and telephone number,” Martin said. “My family members were in there, and he said ‘you were in an accident. You were hit by a train.’ I kind of laughed, like, I was hit by a train? He said, ‘yeah, you were hit by a train.’ I said ok, and I still didn’t believe I was hit by a train.”
Martin said it eventually sunk in when she saw her car on the news after the accident. She said she was devastated at first, but grateful to walk away from the event. She said since the accident, she has not personally driven over the crossing, but adds that she is glad to see the new devices in place and it may take some time before she drives over the tracks.
“My heart is full knowing that I have a testimony to be able to live and to be able to help someone else to go through not just this, but any other problem that is devastating to them like this was devastating to me,” Martin said.