Mother and daughter remain hospitalized after train collision

DSC_1000 webBy Dean Manning

For the Mountain Advocate

A mother and daughter remain at the University of Tennessee Medical Center where they were airlifted when their SUV was hit by a train in the Gray community Friday afternoon.

September Berry and her teenage daughter, Summer, and toddler son Jayden Henson were crossing the tracks on Bertha Hollow Road about 2:30 p.m. when the train comprised of two locomotives struck it in the passenger’s side.

The Jeep Cherokee was knocked into a nearby ravine.

September Berry and Summer Berry were taken by ambulance to Living Waters Church where a helicopter landing zone had been established. From there, they were airlifted to UT.

The toddler was taken by private vehicle to an area hospital where he was treated and released.

Several witnesses at the scene reported not hearing the train sound its horn as it approached the crossing.

Knox County Sheriff Mike Smith said Tuesday that deputies had spoken with another resident who reported hearing the horn.

Smith said a blood sample has been taken from the train engineer to determine whether drugs or alcohol were a factor in the incident.

Smith emphasized that is standard procedure.

In addition, deputies have requested CSX provide the information from the locomotive’s “black box,” which will provide details at the time of the incident such as how fast the train was travelling.

Smith said the blood results and acquiring the information from CSX will each take several days.

Area residents say this is the second accident involving a train and vehicle at this particular crossing in the last 10 years.

Twenty-seven-year-old Glen Elliott, who was on the scene of Friday’s wreck, lost his leg when his motorcycle was struck by a train.

Elliott said the trains that pass through the area are usually moving at high speeds and have been known to not sound a horn as they approach the crossing.

The crossing has no gates or flashing lights.

“I think they need to put something up,” Elliott said.