According to Greenville Online, five different people have been struck and killed by trains while walking on the underground railroad tracks that run near Pleasantburg Drive and Rutherford Road in Greenville, South Carolina.
The latest victim, Scotty Goranson, 33, routinely walked the tracks according to family members. He was hit and killed at the end of September, after the engineer blew his horn repeatedly at the young man. His mother, Mary Jane Timm, said that he enjoyed walking on the tracks regularly, especially after he lost his car earlier in the year.
“I knew he walked on the tracks to get from one town to another,” Timm said. “It’s dangerous to walk on the railroad tracks I told him.”
However, Robin Chapman, spokesperson for transportation company Norfolk Southern Corp., pointed out that the practice is not only unsafe, but against the law as well.
“It’s illegal to walk on the tracks,” he said. “I get daily reports on any given week that there are incidents in our 22-state system.”
Greenville County Sheriff Officer Tim Ridgeway was one of the first officers at the scene of thr train accident. He also mentioned that although many don’t realize it, walking on the train tracks is not legal and can often be deadly.
In other parts of South Carolina, there have been nine other trespass deaths on other stretches of railroad tracks, according to Operation Lifesaver, a railroad safety organization that works in conjunction with Norfolk Southern and other railroad operators. However, the Pleasantburg Drive corridor of the tracks has proved to be especially deadly.
In December of 2004, Angel Ramirez was struck while walking home from his job at the Columbia Farms chicken processing factory – his body was found 20 feet from the tracks. In July 2005, Charles Brantley was also killed in the same area – he had either fallen or was sleeping on the tracks.
Many incidents are the product of people running in front of the trains after misjudging the speed of the trains.
“That’s a common misperception,” Chapman said. “The person (Goranson) was hit when he crossed from one track to another,” he said, mentioning that the length of the trains can be confusing. “”You can’t tell if it’s going 25 mph or 50 mph. Very often, you don’t know until it’s too late.”