theadanews.com - Ada, Oklahoma

July 24, 2013

County says it can’t improve RR crossing; company says it needs county’s OK

Art Lawler Staff Writer adanewslawler@cableone.net
www.theadanews.com

Ada —

Life, like football, can be a game of inches.

Miranda Wood knows that. Her 13-year-old daughter, Starla, knows that. So do their three dogs, Harley, a lab, and Mollie and Dodger, both dachshunds.

All five saw their lives pass literally in front of them Sunday on Simmons Road (CR 3540).

First, you scream appropriately, they remembered Monday afternoon. 

This is at the same time you’re stomping on the brakes.

Those things put together proved to be just enough.

The reason for the screaming, sliding and braking, is that they looked up and saw a train coming around a curve and barreling down on them, 40 or 50 yards away.  

A train can eat up 40 or 50 yards in a second or two. Just ask Starla and her mom.

The dust from the country road flew into the air. The silver van slid up to the railroad track with an inch to spare, Miranda said.

“Oh, my God, we’re going to die,” mother and daughter said in unison.

“We felt like we were in the train,” Miranda said. “We could feel it,” said Starla.

Miranda had the presence of mind to throw the van into reverse, but that set off another near disaster with the vehicle almost rolling back into a ditch.

Then, just as quickly, the train was gone.

“It was a short train,” Miranda said.

Mother and daughter were totaled — at least emotionally. Then, Mom hugged daughter and daughter hugged mom. 

“I had a guardian angel who protected me,” Miranda said. “All  of us had a guardian angel protecting us. If (the train conductor) hadn’t honked, I’d have been on the track.” Tears still rimmed her eyes more than 24 hours after the near disaster.

Monday, Miranda was analyzing the near mishap. She broke out in tears at odds times.

She is determined to get something done about the train crossing.

“Someone is going to die at that crossing. We need someone to help us.”

She said she called her county commissioner, Randy Floyd, and she said he told her there was nothing that he could do.

The News spoke with Burlington North Santa Fe in Fort Worth Tuesday. The company’s spokesman, Joe Faust, put the ball squarely back into the county’s court.

If Pontotoc County commissioners vote to install blinking lights at the site, and/or cross bars, BNSF will install the equipment, Faust said. The price of the equipment and the time required to do the installation could prove a work of politics.

The fix, in other words, won’t be cheap.

The commissioners will have to agree there is a problem and that avoiding near misses is, indeed, a high priority.

Faust said the railroad company would be guided by the wishes of the county.

Miranda Wood and others who might have experienced similar incidents at that crossing would have to get Floyd to try to bring the other two commissioners on board, then find the economic resources to get the railroad company’s help.

Meanwhile, Wood said she believes the crossing is a death waiting to happen.

The News placed calls to Floyd seeking comment but was unable to reach him.

For those seeking more information about this crossing, call Faust at 817-867-6427 (identifier for this particular railroad crossing: D.O.T.672-009R).