Community members rally to make dangerous railroad crossing safer

DALE COUNTY, Ala. (WDHN) — A dangerous railroad crossing in Dale County has claimed yet another life. In response, the family and community members came together demanding leaders make the intersection safer.

The message the family and community members have for not only local officials but those at the state level, fix it or shut it down.

Marching and chanting down the streets of Midland City to get automatic block signals and warning lights at a railroad crossing that has now been the site of six train and car collisions.

“We are here to give out the message that we must work with our city and government officials so that this does not happen again,” Rodreshia Russaw with the Ordinary People Society said.

Matthew Thomas who had a love for his mother’s cooking and pickles was just 20 years old when an accident involving a train at the railroad crossing on 5th Street and Michigan Avenue took his life.

“This area has been like this for years,” Andre Jackson, Matthew’s father said. “I mean there have been deaths since 1963 that killed the Langfords, and like she [Russaw] said various other accidents and the last one happened to take our child.”

The accident happened in early May and since, his father, mother, fiance, and other community members have been fighting to keep his memory alive.

“If I have to fight with every bean and bone in my body, I am going to get something done,” Jackson said.

In addition, they want to make sure no one else becomes a victim of a tragedy they believe could have been prevented.

“Like I told the mayor, no disrespect, but I will be there every day, you will know my face personally until something is done,” Jackson said.

They know adding proper safety measures to that crossing won’t necessarily bring their son back, but if there is a possibility it could prevent another family from feeling their current pain, the marching and rallying they say they’ll keep doing will be worth it in the long run.

“We were supposed to be planning our wedding and the future that we had together because I am his fiance, but that’s all of that is gone,” Rebecca Starling, Matthew’s Fiance said. “We just need something done about this situation so it doesn’t have to happen to someone else’s family because I wish this on nobody.”

They aren’t the only family speaking up and wanting action to be taken.

“My son doesn’t remember anything,” Tina Jones, the mother of another train/car accident victim. “He doesn’t remember the day before, the accident, or the day after.”

In December of last year, her son was driving over the same tracks due to the dense fog in the early morning
a train struck his car. Even though he survived his mother said every day is an uphill battle.

“Still having problems, still having ups and downs,” Jones said.

In order to steer clear of any accident, law enforcement highly recommends drivers avoid that crossing altogether. They recommend using the crossing on 3rd Street and Michigan Avenue, which has both automatic block signaling and warning lights.

The family tells WDHN they will not stop until this railroad crossing is either fixed or shut down completely, they say too many lives have been impacted already this is why they encourage concerned citizens to go to city meetings and let their voices be heard.

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