CHERAW — On a morning when it was sticky hot even before sunrise, a northbound Amtrak passenger train slammed into a municipal truck killing the two men inside and sending the town into mourning.
The tragic collision occurred about 7:45 a.m. Monday. There are stop signs at the tracks in this area but no railroad crossing arms.
Killed in the crash were Glenn Locklear, 52, and Barney Driggers, 56, both of Cheraw. The two men worked for the Town of Cheraw’s Public Works Department.
Chesterfield County Coroner Kip Kiser said they died as a result of trauma from the accident.
According to the S.C. Highway Patrol (SCHP), the accident occurred in town limits near the intersection of East Market Street and Third street. Witnesses in the area reported they heard the sound of the impact as the train and truck collided at about 7:45 a.m.
The truck was pulling a large trailer at the time of the accident.
According to representatives from Amtrak, there were 244 passengers on board at the time of the accident, and none were injured.
The train was running from Miami to New York, having left Miami Sunday with a scheduled arrival in New York on Monday afternoon.
Passengers on the train at the time of the accident remained on board until the train was released from the accident site, which didn’t occur until after 1 p.m., officials said.
The crash remains under investigation by a special team with the SCHP.
Cheraw Mayor Scott Hunter released a statement regarding the death of the town’s two employees, and announced that a memorial fund has been established for the men’s families.
“The Town of Cheraw is deeply saddened by the loss of two if its members. Barney ‘Sly’ Driggers and Glenn Locklear were Public Works employees who had been with the town for more than five years and their tragic deaths on Monday, June 20th, is a shock to the entire Cheraw community,” Hunter said.
“We are extremely devastated by this tragedy. Both Sly and Glenn were well liked and hard working, dedicated employees. They were not just employees but members of our Town of Cheraw family,” said the mayor. “We wish to extend our heartfelt condolences to both families and friends. They will both be missed.”
The Town of Cheraw has set up a memorial fund for anyone wishing to donate to assist the families. Checks can be made out to the Town of Cheraw/Memorial Fund and mailed to the Town of Cheraw, P.O. Box 219, Cheraw, SC 29520 or dropped off to the Cheraw Town Hall located at 200 Market St.
Sarah Nuckles, Fifth District Commissioner of South Carolina’s Department of Transportation, offered her own condolences shortly after the crash.
“I would like to let the people of Cheraw know how deeply sorry I am about this train accident and the loss of the two men who worked for the Town of Cheraw. My heart goes out to their families and I pray the Lord will bring them comfort.
“I will ask the SC Department of Transportation’s Division of Intermodal and Freight to look into the rail crossings at this location. Perhaps something can be done to try and prevent such tragedies in the future,” Nuckles said.
There are more than 2,600 public railroad crossings in South Carolina. DOT officials could not say how many of them do not have crossing arms.
Every year, the SCDOT receives about $4 million in federal funds to install crossing arms at tracks. DOT officials say it costs about $200,000 per track, so it can only afford to put up about 16 to 20 a year.