Freight train hits big rig on Northside

Published On: Dec 24 2013 07:28:46 AM EST   Updated On: Sep 17 2013 11:35:22 PM EDT

A crash on Jacksonville's Northside leaves a lot of twisted metal and a mess on the ground. A train hits a semi-truck filled with cole slaw and lettuce. No one was hurt. Channel 4's Scott Johnson looks into why the train was stopped and how this wreck could have been prevented.


A train and a tractor trailer collided on the Northside Tuesday evening. The semi-truck was filled with produce and caused quite a mess on the tracks. Otha Timmons was driving the semi when he stopped on the railroad tracks in North Jacksonville and was hit by a train.

Police said the big rig was stopped at a red light, blocking the tracks, when the train came through.  It was not going fast, but had enough speed to knock the trailer onto its side and tip the cab.

“Like thunder, like a thunder storm. I am glad it’s not worse than it is. I was just going around the corner right here,” said the semi-truck driver, Otha Timmons.

Channel 4 asked Timmons why he was parked on the tracks and he said he was forced to because of backed up traffic in the area of Alta drive and Faye Road.

Police say a traffic light isn’t an excuse to stop on the tracks and that Timmons could face a citation for what happened.

“If I wouldn’t have stopped on the tracks, I would have hit the cars in front of me. So I had to stop, otherwise I would rode over top of cars like the train rolled over me,” said Timmons.

“If the railroad crossing arms are down or light flashing, always better to stop short of track rather than stop in the middle,” said Lt. Allen Eason.

Channel 4 Crime and Safety expert Ken Jefferson said even if the train saw the semi early, it would be impossible for the train to stop on time.

“The trains cannot stop on a dime," said Jefferson. "It sometimes takes a mile or more to stop. So whenever you see the lights flashing, no matter how far back the train is, it’s better to wait until it passes."

Officers said the big rig was carrying 1,000 pounds of cole slaw.


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