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Fatal accident prompts concerns for more safety measures near railroad track

Published: Jul. 16, 2021 at 7:53 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Cleanup efforts were underway in Byram on Friday.

Workers spent hours removing debris from a fatal accident scene that claimed the lives of James Creel from Meridian, and Scott Hartsock, from Florida.

The 18 wheeler tow truck the men were in was struck by an Amtrak train carrying more than 100 passengers on Thursday.

The incident happened around 5:30 P.M. on the railroad track located off Old Byram Road near the entrance into the Jackson Motor Speedway.

“As they came around the curve that has the natural overgrowth here, they came right up on the tracks just like that,” said Joel Falk, who’s working with Monster Trukz during its four shows this weekend. “We don’t know if his foot popped off the clutch or exactly what happened, but he may have been paying attention to the difficult curve or to the hill you see those trucks going over. Just like this truck is pulling up, the train, they said, was going about 80 miles an hour and hit them right in the side.”

Falk was friends with Hartsock, whom he said is a well-known Monster Truck driver with more than two decades of experience.

“He was coming here with his famous monster truck GunSlinger, and he was going to drive in all of the four shows that are going to be here this weekend,” said Falk.

Our camera was rolling as two trains came rolling through the tracks.

On that portion of the tracks, there aren’t any safety measures in place to alert drivers when a train is coming, only the loud horn from the locomotive.

Currently, there are only signs warning drivers of the track.

Byram city leaders said they’re not in charge of adding additional safety measures to that location.

“That would not be our responsibility,” said Mayor Richard White. “That’s private property.”

That particular property is private, and city leaders said the landowner is responsible for making the area more visible and safer for drivers.

“They would have to work with Canadian National Railroad to implement greater safety measures such as the flashing lights and folded down crossbars,” said Chief David Herrington, Byram Police Department.

Monster Truckz said they are going to do tributes for Hartsock during its four shows this weekend.

Passengers who were on board when the accident happened were taken to the Amtrak station in Jackson Thursday night.

A train was scheduled to pick them up from there Friday evening to continue their route.

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